Lindstrom gets suspended sentence in infant death case
A Bowman woman will likely not go to jail for negligent homicide.
Stephanie Lindstrom, 43, was originally charged with murder after a baby’s body was found in a bathroom, where she had been sitting sick for a few days last July. She told investigators she did not know she was pregnant, and prosecutors first alleged she drowned the baby on purpose after giving birth.
In handing down the sentence, which includes a year in jail that is suspended for five years, Southwest Judicial District Judge William Herauf on Tuesday emphasized the tragedy of the events, but said Lindstrom did not appear to have intentionally hurt her baby.
“There is no indication this was an intentional act,” Herauf said.
The original murder charge, which carried a maximum sentence of life without parole, was later dropped to negligent homicide in a plea deal. The state weakened its charge after medical testimony showed it would be hard to prove Lindstrom was mentally aware during the events. The baby’s death was ruled to be drowning; the body was found in a toilet, according to court documents.
Lindstrom was holed up in her home bathroom for three days, with her family under the impression she was ill — not pregnant, according to court documents. After she was finally taken to the hospital, her mother and boyfriend found the baby dead in the bathroom.
Herauf’s sentence was nearly identical to the state’s recommendation — Bowman County State’s Attorney Andrew Weiss had recommended suspending the sentence for four years instead of five.
“It was a negligence, there was no malice or ill-will on this case,” Weiss said.
Because of her severe dehydration, renal failure, hemorrhaging and septic shock, Weiss said, he wouldn’t be able to prove Lindstrom’s state of mind during the act. The state consulted medical testimony and a psychological evaluation of Lindstrom in its recommendation.
Weiss had discussed the proposal with Lindstrom’s attorney, Erica Chisholm, before the hearing Tuesday.
“The long and the short of it is this is just a tragic case. It involves the loss of life of someone who could really not defend themselves,” Herauf said. “Lives will be forever affected.”
Herauf noted that the presentence investigation found a 15 percent chance of recidivism — the lowest he’s ever seen, by far.
So, he said, he found no need for a secured setting for Lindstrom, and that necessary services would be provided through probation for the five years.
She’s also ordered to go to counseling.