NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — A Florida woman convicted of killing her 5-year-old son in New Jersey in 1991 has been sentenced to 30 years in prison, even though prosecutors had sought a life sentence.
Superior Court Judge Dennis Nieves told Michelle Lodzinski, 49, she had repeatedly lied about the disappearance and death of Timothy Wiltsey.
Lodzinski declined to address the court. She told the judge she wore a wrist brace because she said she had injured it in a fall.
Lodzinski's attorney sought the least time under the sentencing guidelines.
"I'm sure Timmy would not want to impose a life sentence on his mother," said Gerald Krovatin, Lodzinski's attorney.
Prosecutor Christine Bevacqua objected and argued for no mercy. "A mother who kills her child should spend the rest of her life in prison," Bevacqua said.
Lodzinski said her son disappeared from a carnival in central New Jersey, then later claimed he was abducted.
She was charged in 2014 after witnesses identified a blanket found near the boy's body nearly a year after he disappeared. Lodzinski has always maintained her innocence.
The judge gave her 884 days credit toward her sentence, which her lawyers are expected to appeal.
Lodzinski, who had been living in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and has two other children, has been held in New Jersey since her arrest in the summer of 2014.
She was long a prime suspect in Wiltsey's death, but investigators didn't believe they had enough evidence to convict her until they reopened the case several years ago and eventually found witnesses who could identify a blanket found near the boy's remains as having come from Lodzinski's apartment.
That testimony was vital to the prosecution's case because no forensic evidence tied Lodzinski or the boy to the blanket or other items found near his remains 11 months after he disappeared. A cause of death couldn't be established due to the deterioration of the skeleton.
During the trial, prosecutors also focused on Lodzinski's changing stories about the boy's disappearance, which they argued demonstrated consciousness of guilt. They painted Lodzinski as a young, single mother who struggled with jobs and relationships because of the boy and wanted to move on in life without him.
They contended Lodzinski concocted a story about the boy disappearing from the carnival, and told jurors no one who knew the boy saw him with her that night.
Lodzinski's defense attorney produced witnesses who worked at the carnival who claimed they saw a boy who looked like Timothy, and he attempted to cast doubt on the reliability of the witnesses who testified about the blanket.
Krovatin also put on the witness stand an ex-convict from Arizona who testified that a former associate confessed to killing a young boy under circumstances similar to the Timothy's death.