Mom has deadline to plead in death

Relates to:
Date: 2003-10-08

Boy born in Russia died after adoption

BERNIE WEISENFELD
Courier-Post

A Franklin woman charged with aggravated manslaughter in the death of her adopted Russian child has two weeks to consider pleading guilty to a lesser offense that would give her no more than five years in prison.

At a court hearing Tuesday, Heather Lindorff, 37, said she was not prepared to plead guilty to the lesser charge of second-degree aggravated assault. A conviction on the charge of first-degree aggravated manslaughter could put her in prison for 20 to 30 years.

Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez asked the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office to keep the plea proposal open until Oct. 20. If there is no resolution by then, "my goal is to try this case the first week of December,' Mendez said.

Lindorff is charged in the December death of 5-year-old Jacob Lindorff, less than two months after he was adopted from a Russian orphanage. The boy died of a head injury, an autopsy showed. He had also been bruised and burned, authorities said.

Lindorff's husband, James Lindorff, 53, also is awaiting trial on child abuse charges.

Mendez said while the assault charge carries a prison sentence of five to 10 years, Lindorff's lack of a prior criminal record would allow him to sentence her as a third-degree offender.

That would put the possible prison sentence in the three-to-five-year range, and a state law requiring a convict to serve 85 percent of a sentence would not apply, he said. Her time served could be as short as 18 months.

Reach Bernie Weisenfeld at (856) 251-3345 or bweisenfeld@courierpost online.com

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