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Woman faces trial in death of 5-year-old


The boy, adopted from Russia, died in December 2000 of a head injury



A judge on Wednesday let stand charges of aggravated manslaughter against a Franklin woman in the death of her 5-year-old son.

Superior Court Judge John Tomasello ruled "there appeared to be sufficient testimony' before a grand jury to support the indictment of Heather Lindorff, 37.

The boy died in December 2000, less than two months after he was adopted from Russia.

A trial for Lindorff and her 52-year-old husband James, who is charged with child abuse, is scheduled for Aug. 25.

In arguments Wednesday before Tomasello, Heather Lindorff's lawyer, Steven Patrick, said the prosecutor did not prove to a grand jury that Lindorff inflicted the injuries on her son, Jacob.

The boy died of a head injury, an autopsy showed. He also had been bruised and burned, authorities said.

Jacob was in Heather Lindorff's custody and "that's as far as they can go,' Patrick said.

"I don't know how you can sit there and say it's got to be Mrs. Lindorff and not Mr. Lindorff that did it,' Patrick said.

"There are a myriad of people who could have had access' to Jacob, Patrick added. "I don't know how they picked her as the target person.'

Assistant County Prosecutor Mary Pyffer offered no oral argument, relying on a legal brief submitted to Tomasello. The brief states the indictment contains the necessary "elements of the offense,' based on details given to the grand jury about Jacob Lindorff's injuries and expert opinions that the injuries were consistent with child abuse.

"Mrs. Lindorff was the primary caregiver to the children,' Pyffer stated.

The Lindorffs have five other adopted Russian children. They now live with Heather Lindorff's mother. Despite Jacob's "horrific injuries, no medical treatment was ever sought for this child until the date of his death,' Pyffer said.

Patrick also argued that the grand jury was not given evidence that could have cleared his client. That included the report of a defense medical expert whose opinion on the child's cause of death differed from the medical examiner's, he said.

The prosecution has no obligation to present defense arguments or experts to a grand jury, Pyffer said after the hearing.

Reach Bernie Weisenfeld (856) 845-6533 or bweisenfeld@courierpost online.com

2003 May 29