Against lawyer's advice, woman pleads guilty in death of son
The defense lawyers said the case contained major evidence problems.
By ROGER G. SMITH
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Jennifer Wolfe insisted on pleading guilty in her 2-year-old son's death, despite her lawyer's strong reservations.
Wolfe's plea Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to involuntary manslaughter leaves her facing three to 10 years in prison for her son Jesse's death. Prosecutors are recommending the maximum sentence.
Wolfe, 22, of Austintown, was facing an aggravated murder charge.
Doug Taylor, Wolfe's defense attorney, told Judge Maureen A. Cronin he strongly disagreed with taking the plea deal.
Taylor said afterward the case contained major evidence problems. There are questions about the cause of death, listed as asphyxiation, and who might be responsible for the death, he said. Also, the child had health problems, he said.
The case probably should have gone to trial, he said. Nonetheless, his client insisted on accepting the plea deal, he added.
The boy was found not breathing in his mother's Compass West apartment Oct. 22, 2004. He was pronounced dead at Forum Health Northside Medical Center. Coroner's investigators said it appeared the boy was asphyxiated and ruled his death a homicide. Police said the body was bruised.
A boyfriend told police he had just arrived at the apartment and found that Jesse was not breathing and his skin was blue. The boy also had blood in his throat, police said.
The boyfriend said he performed CPR on Jesse until paramedics arrived.
Wolfe told police that she had gone next door about five minutes before her boyfriend arrived and that Jesse appeared to be in good health earlier in the day.
Wolfe's daughter, who was 6 at the time, also was in the apartment.
Wolfe told Judge Cronin that her daughter now is in foster care.