TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ A German grandmother would be spared a potential death sentence if convicted of killing her 5-year-old grandson under a tentative plea agreement, a Florida prosecutor said Friday.
State Attorney Willie Meggs confirmed that he and defense lawyers have agreed to a reduced charge and a 21 1/2-year prison term for Marianne Bordt. Prosecutors had previously proposed a 30-year sentence, but the defense rejected it.
Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey, who had encouraged the lawyers to settle the case, has set a hearing for Monday in Apalachicola, where the 73-year old woman is expected to formally agree to the deal.
Bordt, of Nufringen, Germany, is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse. She is accused of drowning her grandson, Camden Hiers of suburban Atlanta, in the bathtub of a Florida Panhandle beach house in January 2010. She and her husband were vacationing with the boy on St. George Island southeast of Tallahassee.
Bordt's lawyers had been preparing an insanity defense for her trial, which is scheduled for Oct. 24. They say mental and physical injuries she suffered as a child during a World War II bombing raid contributed to her alleged insanity at the time of Camden's death.
Meggs didn't want to discuss details of the agreement because it won't be final until the judge accepts it.
“That's what we think we can do,'' he said. “I'd prefer to talk about it after it's done.''
Neither Public Defender Nancy Daniels nor an assistant who has been handling the case immediately responded to telephone messages seeking comment.
Camden's father, David Hiers, said he and his family opposed the tentative agreement in part because Bordt would be eligible for release in only 16 years. Hiers and the boy's mother, Karin Hiers, divorced when he was a year-and-a-half old.
“The plea deal does not match the crimes committed,'' David Hiers wrote in an email, noting that a reduction in the charge would be required because the only penalties available for first-degree murder are death and life in prison.
“We know that first-degree murder was committed _ based on what the overwhelming evidence in the case clearly told,'' he wrote. “There was strong evidence about violent child abuse (possibly even torture) that happened prior to the actual murder by drowning.''
Hiers contended there was ample evidence of premeditation to prove first-degree murder in part because the drowning occurred only after Bordt's husband, Heinz, had gone into Apalachicola to shop and neighbors had left for the day.
Hiers also wants Bordt go to trial because he believes that's the only way he will learn what happened to his only child and why. He doesn't accept her insanity claim and would prefer she receive a lengthy prison term rather than a death sentence so she can “think about what she's done.''
Heinz Bordt told authorities that he returned to find his wife, her clothing soaked, returning from the beach, saying she had tried to drown herself in the Gulf of Mexico. He also said she told him she had drowned Camden so he wouldn't “grow up in a divorced home.''