Iowa mom taken to jail to await sentencing

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -A woman who was to stand trial for allegedly burning her 9 month old baby daughter in the bathtub has pleaded guilty. It turns out Jana Weir has been living in the same house with the little girl, even though Weir's parents have custody.

Weir has been out on bond but now a local judge has ordered the defendant to jail until sentencing in order to assure her children are protected.

Weir of Iowa pleaded guilty to 2nd degree cruelty to a juvenile-- it's the kind of guilty plea where it's understood the defendant admits no wrong, but believes the evidence could result in a conviction.

As part of the process,  Assistant District Attorney Sharon Wilson, with the Severe Child Abuse Division,  described to the court what the state expected to prove if Weir did go to trial. Wilson says they would show that Weir's nine month old baby was badly burned and that she lied about how it happened. "This child who was 9 months old at the time sustained multiple second and third degree burns on her body. The skin literally peeled away from her body. The medical doctors are saying that it's physically impossible for it to have occurred the way mom says it occurred."

In questioning of the defendant by Judge Mike Canaday it came out that Weir lives in the same home with the victim and her other children, even though Weir's parents have custody. Says Wilson, "I have concerns about the safety of the children in that kind of circumstance, given the attitude the parents displayed in court. They are strong advocates for their daughter suggesting that this could not have happened which defies all medical evidence."

As Canaday discussed measures aimed at ensuring the safety of the children while Weir awaits sentencing, there was an outburst from Weir's parents.  The outburst apparently raised questions in the judge's mind as to whether his order that the defendant have no contact with the children would be followed. Wilson described what happened, as conveyed by witnesses:  "Her mother left the courtroom and used some profanity in describing the judge that was reported to the judge. He brought both mother and father in. Based on the answers they gave to the court, their body language, he really felt that they were not going to follow his orders in keeping this defendant away from her kids pending sentencing."

Said Canaday, "I see too many red flags here" and ordered Weir to be kept in jail without bond until her sentencing at 9 a.m. April 15th. Weir's defense attorney Steve Coward declined to appear on camera, but says he thinks putting Weir in jail was a little severe and amounts to punishing her for her parents' outburst.

According to court records, state child abuse investigators found negligent supervision of Weir's children, but did not validate allegations of physical child abuse.

Weir could get up to 40 years when she is sentenced. A spokesman for the State Office of Community Services says generally when they place a child with a family member, that assumes the child will be protected from any potential abuse. Spokesman Trey Williams says they are looking into the weir case.