A rural North Mankato couple accused of starving their adoptive son makes a plea deal.
Mona and Russell Hauer are charged with child neglect after their eight–year–old adopted son was brought to the hospital weighing nearly 35 pounds.
Both Mona and Russell Hauer faced the judge this morning and agreed to a deal that will close the criminal case against them.
This morning, District Court Judge Allison Krehbiel signed off on an Alford plea agreement offered by Nicollet County attorney Michelle Zehnder Fischer; an offer brought to the table to keep the child from testifying in court.
The deal also sets a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail, instead of a year originally asked by prosecutors.
Attorney for the Hauer's, Christopher Rosengren says, "It allows them to plead guilty while still maintaining their innocence of the underlying behaviors. They're agreeing that if the matter were to proceed to trial and the jury were to believe the state's evidence and not their evidence that there'd be a substantial likelihood of conviction."
Mona Hauer pleaded to a felony–level charge of child neglect for causing substantial harm to her adopted son.
Russell Hauer pleaded to a gross misdemeanor for his actions of neglect.
Rosengren says, "The prosecutor said if we didn't take this agreement she was going to seek a year in prison for both of them plus the costs of prosecution.
Which, I don't know what they are but I imagine that they are upwards of fifty to sixty thousand dollars, possibly more."
Rosengren says Mrs. Hauer's felony charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor once she successfully completes probation under what's called a 'stay of imposition.'
Once all is said and done, Mona Hauer may walk away with a lower charge of a misdemeanor, compared to her husband's gross misdemeanor.
Rosengren says, "Another reason why they took this agreement is because neither one of them will wind up with a felony conviction when it's all over."
Zehnder Fischer told the court that the neglected child has suffered stunted growth due to malnourishment but has measurably gained weight and grown in height under professional and foster care.
Zehnder Fischer declined to speak with us until after sentencing.
Today, Judge Krehbiel scheduled the Hauer's sentence date for November 26th.