Danielle Fischer, a 25-year-old mom, suddenly pleaded guilty Tuesday in the middle of her trial in connection with the fatal beating of her 3-year-old son, Robbie Cramer, according to WJBC-TV. The toddler was repeatedly beaten by Fischer’s live-in lover, Nicholas Compton, in 2013. The child finally succumbed after Compton punched the boy in his lower back so hard that Robbie’s intestines split open and he died from peritonitis, an infection often caused by ruptures in the abdomen, according to reports in the Pantagraph newspaper.
Compton, who lived with Fischer and her son in Normal, Illinois, was convicted earlier this year of murdering Robbie Cramer. The 23-year-old is now serving a life sentence behind bars for the child abuse killing.
According to a medical examiner who testified during Compton’s trial in January, Robbie Cramer suffered at least 30 injuries leading up to his death on March 26, 2013, when he climbed into bed with his mother and stopped breathing.
The injuries, which an autopsy determined were caused by “inflicted trauma” rather than by accidents as Compton claimed, almost covered Robbie’s whole body. They included a burn on the child’s cheek that appeared to be caused by drug paraphernalia, as well as a deep bruise on his lower back that, though it was inflicted more than a week before Robbie’s death, proved to be the fatal blow.
“This bruise caused his peritonitis, this impact,” forensic pathologist Scott Denton testified at Compton’s trial.
The boy also had burns on his hand, which Compton claimed came from holding his hand under a restroom air dryer. Further details on the Compton trial can be found in the video news report from WMBD-TV, below.
Danielle Fischer was originally charged with murder as well in the death of her son by allegedly failing to get medical help for Robbie even though she knew how badly he was hurt, according to reports by WMBD-TV News.
But in September, a judge in Illinois ruled that her constitutional right to a speedy trial had been violated because the state waited 74 days longer than the maximum 160 days to bring her to trial, and the murder charge was thrown out.
Fischer still faced trial on charges of child endangerment, however, because prosecutors said that she knew of the horrifying abuse Compton was inflicting on Robbie but did nothing about it.
Just hours before Robbie Cramer died, Fischer took him shopping for stomach medicine. A store security video showed the boy clinging to a shopping cart, barely able to stand up.
Fischer was in the third day of her trial on the endangerment charge when she abruptly changed her plea to guilty.
“The degree of apathy and neglect this defendant showed her own son is beyond all understanding,” said Illinois Assistant State Prosecutor Adam Ghrist.
Fischer will be sentenced in February, and at that hearing, Ghrist promised to reveal the full range of grisly and shocking details of what he called “the torture” that was inflicted on her 3-year-old son as she stood back and did nothing to stop it.
“I felt she was guilty all along. It took too long to get the outcome we expected. She should have come out and admitted it earlier,” Cramer said. “Robbie didn’t live very long, only three years. I would be happy with anything more than three years, but I’d like her to get the maximum of 10 years.”
Fischer’s own attorney, Jane Foster, said that the young mom changed her plea to guilty because the evidence against her grew became impossible to refute, even though she said that Fischer was “a caring mother who loved her son.”
Danielle Fischer now faces a minimum of two years and a maximum of 10 behind bars.
[Photos via WMDB-TV Video Capture, Police Handout]