Niemerg Pleads Guilty in Aggravated Battery Case
Published on April 4 2013 6:40 pm
Written by Greg Sapp
Local resident Kelci Niemerg has pleaded guilty to aggravated battery just days prior to the scheduled start of her trial.
The charge of aggravated battery was just filed today to replace a charge of aggravated battery of a child, a Class X felony that would have meant automatic prison time and a sentence of up to 30 years. The count to which Niemerg pleaded guilty is a Class 3 felony, punishable by up to two to five years in prison, although prosecutors contend the case qualifies for an extended term of up to 10 years. Sentencing is set for 9am on June 7.
A trial on the aggravated battery of a child charge was scheduled to begin Monday morning in Clinton County Circuit Court in Carlyle.
The count to which Niemerg pleaded guilty charges that great bodily harm was done Nathan Dill, the then-seven-month-old son of Don and Laura Dill when he was thrown into a playpen and struck his head on an elliptical next to the playpen.
Prosecuting attorney Ed Deters said testimony at trial, testimony would have been that Laura Dill took Nathan to the Niemerg home the morning of May 4, 2011. Niemerg was working as an in-home day care provider for the Dills. Laura Dill, who then went to work, got a phone call from Niemerg that Nathan was not responding properly. The child was taken to the St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital emergency room and then airlifted to Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis for treatment. Deters said the evaluation indicated Nathan had suffered significant head injuries including massive brain trauma throughout the brain as well as retinal hemorrhage. Deters said the examining doctor would testify the injuries were due to "inflicted trauma".
Judge Kimberly Koester accepted the plea and ordered a pre-sentence investigation, which will take up to 45 days to complete.
Niemerg entered an open plea, rather than a negotiated plea, so there is no agreement on the sentence to be imposed. The parties have agreed that $27,000 restitution will be required to settle the Dills' out-of-pocket expenses, but there was no agreement announced on any other compensation.
In remarks after the hearing, Deters announced that he will no longer be serving as prosecutor on the case, but said he would provide State's Attorney Bryan Kibler any help he seeks. He said, "It's meant a lot to stay on the case this long. It's been my honor to work on the case." Both Deters and Kibler commended the Dill family and their support group for their patience throughout the proceedings. Kibler declined comment on what sentence he might seek.
Deters admitted to some surprise that the case came to this resolution. He said there are almost always talks about a plea during any case, but said, "48 hours ago, I didn't think this would happen."
Asked why this was the right decision, Deters said, "Neither side had the perfect case; on one hand there could have been an acquittal if the matter had gone to trial; on the other hand, it could have resulted in 30 years in prison."
A large number of Niemerg's family and friends were also present for the hearing, as they have been throughout the proceedings.