Mother awaits sentencing in infant's death

Relates to:
Date: 1993-11-30

By Gina M. Masullo
Syracuse Herald-Journal

A Geneva woman convicted of causing her child's death faces up to four years in state prison.

But if her lawyer has his way, she'll only get five years' probation.

Defense lawyer Douglas Rowe of Rochester said Monday he will submit information to Ontario County Judge Frederic T. Henry Jr., urging a lighter sentence for his client, Lisa Hawkins-Rusch. He wouldn't say what arguments he will use.

An Ontario County jury Wednesday found Hawkins-Rusch guilty of criminally negligent homicide in the September 1992 death of her 13-month-old adopted daughter, Meghan.

After deliberating nearly two days, the seven-man, five-woman jury cleared Hawkins-Rusch, of 401 High St., of the more serious charges against her: two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree manslaughter and one count of second-degree manslaughter.

"I'm very glad we had the jury to make the decision, because everybody else prejudged the thing," Rowe said. "Obviously it's a very emotional time ... but she's dealing with it."

Hawkins-Rusch and her husband, Steven, had adopted the child from an orphanage in China several months before the child died of head trauma Sept. 26, 1992. Two months after the child died, the mother was charged in her daughter's death.

Rowe said Hawkins-Rusch is free on $5,000 bail until her sentencing Jan. 14.

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