Baby-sitter changes plea again in statutory rape case
For the second time, a Hermann woman accused of sleeping with
the 13-year-old Callaway County boy she was babysitting while
his mother was in the hospital, has changed her plea.
During her sentencing hearing Monday morning, Sarah L. Brown's
attorney, Dan Briegel told judge Gene Hamilton his client wanted
to change her plea from guilty to not guilty because of confusion
regarding the plea bargain offered by the Callaway County
Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
"Her attorney adressed the judge that he had misunderstood the
terms of the plea agreement and told Ms. Brown incorrect information and ... she made her guilty plea relying on that," said Callaway County Prosecuting Attorney Bob Sterner. "Under the law, a person's plea must be knowing and voluntary."
Sterner said the plea included a recommendation from his office that the judge sentence Brown to prison, but leave it up to the judge whether to suspend the sentence and place her on probation or send her to prison.
"(Briegel) didn't understand under the terms of this agreement the judge might send her to prison," he said.
A phone call to Briegel's office was not returned.
In June, Brown, 22 -- who is charged with three counts of statutory rape -- admitted in court to Hamilton that she was guilty of those charges after changing her plea from not guilty during a pre-trial hearing.
At the time, Hamilton asked her several times whether she understood what she was doing.
"So you are pleading guilty to these charges because you are actually guilty? This is your decision to do so?" he asked before reviewing the charges and repeating the query.
"Yes, sir," was Brown's response then.
Hamilton also asked whether anyone had threatened or coerced Brown into her decision to plead guilty, and she said no.
Also in June, Sterner recomended Brown's sentence be five years for each count, to be served concurrently, but left it up to Hamilton to decide whether to impose or suspend the sentence.
Now that Brown has again changed her plea, her case has been scheduled to be put back on the trial setting docket.