DARLINGTON – A Belmont woman charged with neglecting her two babies changed her plea from not guilty by reason of mental defect to guilty at a hearing Thursday, Oct. 10.
Jamie Lee Weigel, 26, faces up to 52 and a half years in prison after pleading guilty in Lafayette County Circuit Court to a Class C felony charge of intentional child abuse causing great bodily harm and a Class F felony charge of chronic neglect of a child.
As part of her plea agreement, two additional felony child abuse charges were dismissed but “read in,” meaning the judge can consider them at sentencing.
Judge Duane Jorgenson accepted Weigel’s plea after going through a standard questionnaire with her to ensure she entered the plea freely. Under his questioning, Weigel told the judge she is receiving treatment for anxiety and depression and is prescribed Zoloft.
Her attorney, Peter Bartelt, said he met with her on “numerous occasions” and discussed her decision to plea.
“It’s my belief that she’s acting knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently here today,” Bartelt said.
Earlier this summer, Weigel was examined by a psychologist for a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
Her sentencing is at 2 p.m. Dec. 10. The defense and prosecution do not agree on a sentence recommendation.
“It will be an argued sentencing, and there are one or two, at least, individuals that wish to speak on behalf of the children,” said District Attorney Jenna Gill.
Weigel and the father of the children, Dalton Allen Hopper, 25, also of Belmont, were charged in April with neglecting their two daughters, then about five months and 15 months, leaving them severely malnourished.
Hopper’s plea hearing is set for Oct. 21.