Mom accused of trying to sell son enters plea

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: September 29, 2011, 5:07 PM

 

A woman accused of trying to sell her baby at a Hazel Dell Taco Bell pleaded guilty Thursday to reckless endangerment in an agreement with prosecutors that allows her to be released from jail this week.

Heidi Knowles, 36, was charged with attempted child selling, a gross misdemeanor, but agreed to plead guilty to reckless endangerment, also a gross misdemeanor. Clark County District Court Judge Sonya Langsdorf sentenced her to 77 days in jail.

Since Knowles has already been in jail 77 days, she received credit for time served and will be released from the Clark County Jail soon, said Deputy Prosecutor Jeff McCarty.

An additional 287 days of jail are hanging over her head if she does not comply with conditions of probation, including undergoing mental health and substance abuse evaluations, McCarty said. Knowles will also be on probation for two years.

Prosecutors had alleged that Knowles approached a woman at the restaurant, handed over her 3-day-old son and offered to sell him for between $500 and $5,000, according to court documents. The woman notified police.

Responding to the 911 call the evening of July 14, deputies found Knowles at Kay’s Motel on Highway 99 with the infant, who appeared to be in good health. They called for officials with Child Protective Services, who took custody of the baby.

Deputies said Knowles appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Defense attorney John Terry said Knowles entered a type of guilty plea that disputes the prosecution’s version of events but accepts the plea bargain to avoid a conviction on another offense.

Terry said his client maintains that she never made any statements about selling her son. The defense attorney, however, acknowledged that other witnesses reportedly heard her statements. He said, based on the evidence from those witnesses, the statements were made in jest.

“The facts indicate it was never meant” as a real selling, Terry said.

Knowles’ son, who was born July 11, is in foster care with a relative. Separate court proceedings on the custody of the child are pending.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts; www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.