A Missouri woman has pleaded guilty to leaving her blind, autistic son to die in a field, and she may only serve a few months for this murder, The Springfield News-Leader is reporting.
Kimberly Lightwine, 43, pleaded guilty this week to involuntary manslaughter – a reduced charge that came after she was initially charged with second-degree murder.
As the News-Leader reported at the time, Polk County Sheriff’s deputies found Lightwine and her son, Austin, lying in a field in nothing but their underwear. Austin, who was 19 at the time of his death, was blind and had autism.
According to police, Lightwine drove to a field that day with the specific purpose of letting Austin die. She allegedly admitted to the murder on the spot.
“It’s my fault, and you should charge me with murder right now for my son’s death, and I’m not joking.”
An autopsy revealed that Austin had a swollen brain from dehydration, and may have gone into shock from being denied lifesaving medication.
However, her sister, Stephanie Saloga, claimed that Lightwine and Austin had been abducted by persons unknown, drugged, and taken to the field.
“Anybody who knows my sister knows that she loves that boy more than life itself. She would never, ever hurt him.”
In fact, Lightwine was indeed found with a broken leg and broken jaw that day, according to The Kansas City Star. However, prosecutors still wanted Lightwine to pay for the crime, saying that she “recklessly failed to provide the needed medication and allowed him to remain unprotected for some period of time that resulted in his death.”
Kimberly Lightwine, the woman accused of killing her 19 year old disabled son made an appearance in court today. Details tonight at nine. pic.twitter.com/QzKADPwwSA
— FOX 5 Springfield (@Fox5KRBK) March 6, 2017
Lightwine was initially charged with second-degree homicide and elder abuse – in Missouri, the elder abuse statutes apply to disabled adults, regardless of their age.
Her attorney, Jason Coatney, says that Lightwine still has no memory of what happened that day. Via her guilty plea, Coatney says, Lightwine did not admit to directly killing her son, but she does admit to not doing all she could have to save him.
“I was pleased that the state was agreeable to [accept this plea]. Frankly, I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Her plea allows her to avoid a lengthy prison sentence. Though originally facing a life sentence, Lightwine will instead be sentenced to 120 days in a Missouri Department of Corrections drug treatment facility. If she completes the program, she’ll be released with five years probation. If she violates the terms of her probation, she could go to prison for as much as seven years.