Mother pleads guilty, but mentally ill, in baby's death - Quad-Cities Online: Illinois

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Mother pleads guilty, but mentally ill, in baby's death

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Posted: Tuesday, April 4, 2000 1:00 am

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) -- A woman charged with involuntary manslaughter in the 1998 death of her infant daughter has pleaded guilty but mentally ill.

Michelle T. Swanson, 28, of Godfrey, entered an open plea Monday, meaning that Circuit Judge Charles Romani Jr. has sentencing options ranging from probation to 14 years in prison.

Last month a Madison County grand jury indicted Swanson on a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Police said Swanson's sister found Swanson's 35-day-old infant, Stephane Esters, under a pile of clothes in October of 1998. The baby was alive when found but died 21 days later.

Originally, Swanson was found unfit to face charges and was admitted to a mental health facility. She was determined to be fit earlier this year.

Police described Swanson as incoherent when they arrived at her home.

Swanson's attorney, assistant public defender Neil Hawkins, said his client was suffering from postpartum depression.

``At the time she did it, she was suffering from mental illness,'' Hawkins said. ``I think that's what she accepts.''

Swanson made no statements in court Monday.

By pleading guilty but mentally ill, Swanson could be sent to a mental institution operated by the state Department of Corrections, rather than to a regular prison.

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