"Balloon Boy" Parents To Plead Guilty, Get Probation
Mr. Heene's lawyer, David Lane, issued this press release explaining that a felony would have resulted in Mrs. Heene's deportation to Japan and the prosecutors required a package deal. From his statement:
Mayumi Heene is a citizen of Japan. As such, any felony conviction or certain misdemeanors would result in her deportation, even though her husband and children are Americans. Because Mayumi, while being questioned by law enforcement made certain statements which the prosecutor could use against her to possibly obtain a felony conviction and thus, her deportation by the federal government, she is avoiding that possibility with this plea. Unfortunately, the prosecutors insisted upon a package deal where Richard would have to fall on his sword and take a felony plea despite the fact that he made no incriminating statements to law enforcement and Mayumi’s statements could not be used against him.[More...]
Given the marital privilege it is doubtful Mayumi could have been called as a witness against Richard and the rules against hearsay would have prevented the showing of the videotaped statement she made against Richard. Upon reviewing the evidence, arguably, Mayumi could have possibly ended up being deported and Richard could have proceeded to trial and had a good chance at an acquittal. This, however, would have put the family at grave risk of seeing a loving, caring, compassionate wife and mother ripped from the family and deported. That was not an acceptable risk, thus these pleas.As a condition of probation in Colorado, a defendant pleading to a felony can be sentenced to 90 days in jail. A defendant pleading to a misdemeanor can receive 60 days in jail as part of probation.
The judge will decide at sentencing, after reviewing the pre-sentence reports.
Lane's press release concludes with:
It is supremely ironic that law enforcement has expressed such grave concern over the welfare of the children, but it was ultimately the threat of taking the children’s mother from the family and deporting her to Japan which fueled this deal. Threatening to stretch what is essentially a low level misdemeanor into a felony prosecution followed by deportation upon conviction simply to make a point shows a complete and utter disregard for the true best interests of these children.I hope if the judge sentences both to county jail time, he allows the parents to serve the sentences sequentially, so the kids aren't deprived of both parents at the same time.
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