NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — A Florida woman charged with killing her 5-year-old son more than 20 years ago in New Jersey has pleaded not guilty.
A lawyer for Michelle Lodzinski entered the plea during a brief court hearing in New Brunswick on Tuesday. Gerald Krovatin of Newark told the court his client adamantly maintains her innocence.
"We still do not believe they (the prosecutors) have a good explanation for why the case was brought 23 years later," Krovatin told The Star-Ledger after the hearing. "Criminal cases don't get better with age. She denies the charge and will hold the state to its proof."
Lodzinski, 46, has been in custody since her arrest Aug. 7. She was extradited to New Jersey on Friday and is being held in the Middlesex County jail on $2 million bail.
She has said her son, Timothy Wiltsey, disappeared at a Sayreville carnival May 25, 1991, but investigators said her story kept changing. His skeletal remains were found in a marshy area of Edison 11 months later.
Lodzinski went into seclusion after her son's remains were discovered, and neighbors said at the time that she didn't appear distraught. In late July, a county grand jury handed up a one-count indictment stating she "did purposely or knowingly kill" Timothy or did "purposely or knowingly inflict serious bodily injury" resulting in his death.
During Tuesday's hearing, Middlesex County prosecutors described some new evidence that led to Lodzinski's indictment.
They said that in 2011, investigators realized some of the items found with Wiltsey's remains in 1992 had not been shown to people who could identify them. They said a blanket found with the boy's remains was shown to Lodzinski and her mother, but both women said they did not recognize it.
Investigators tracked down one of Lodzinski's relatives who babysat for the boy and showed her the blanket. The woman told them it belonged to the boy.
During a further review over the past year, another item found in 1992 was shown to another relative who recognized it as belonging to Timothy. Prosecutors did not identify the item in court or the relatives who were shown the items.
Lodzinski has run into other legal troubles over the years since her son died.
She surfaced in Michigan in January 1994 and said two men claiming to be FBI agents had abducted her at gunpoint outside her apartment building, forced her into a black sport utility vehicle and drove her to Detroit, where they let her out.
She pleaded guilty in 1995 to making false statements to the FBI and fraudulently using the agency's seal. She was sentenced to probation.
In 1997, Lodzinski was charged with stealing a computer from her former employer. She pleaded guilty to a theft charge in 1998. A federal judge sentenced her to house arrest after she admitted she committed a crime while on probation.