Guilty plea expected in sect case

Assistant DA cites intent of baby's aunt

Boston Globe/July 31, 2002
By Michele Kurtz

Dedham -- Prosecutors expect the aunt whose religious prophecy prompted an Attleboro couple to starve their infant son to death to plead guilty in the case, but lawyers are still working on a plea deal for the child's mother.

Bristol Assistant District Attorney Walter J. Shea said yesterday that Michelle Mingo, the aunt of Samuel Robidoux, intends to plead guilty to being an accessory before the fact to assault and battery, the crime with which she's charged. If so, Mingo would walk out of jail - where she's been for nearly two and a half years - after having served the equivalent of the maximum sentence for the crime.

Meanwhile, Joseph Krowski, the lawyer for the baby's mother, Karen Robidoux, said in court yesterday that he has not reached an agreement with prosecutors, but that negotiations are continuing.

Shea has said that Karen Robidoux, who is charged with second-degree murder in her son's death, might plead guilty to manslaughter. He would not disclose the sentence length that he has proposed, but said he won't negotiate over the number of years Robidoux would serve under a plea deal. A manslaughter conviction carries a sentence of anywhere from probation to 20 years in prison.

If lawyers can't agree on a plea for Robidoux, she is slated to stand trial for second-degree murder beginning Sept. 3. Mingo is expected to plead guilty after Robidoux's case is resolved.

Last month, a Bristol County jury found Samuel's father, Jacques Robidoux, guilty of first-degree murder in the boy's death. Prosecutors painted Jacques Robidoux as the leader of a religious sect that shuns modern medicine and science and believes its members are God's chosen people.

He testified that he followed the religious vision of his sister, Mingo, who said God told her the Robidouxs should withhold solid food from 10-month-old Samuel and only feed him breast milk.

Over several weeks the child became skinny and weak and died in April 1999.

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