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Woman Gets 4-Year Term in Death of Her Newborn

April 20, 1999|DEBORAH HAAR

A Pasadena Superior Court judge handed down a four-year prison sentence--the maximum allowable--to Jimi Lee, the 23-year-old Glendale woman convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of her newborn, found stuffed in a Los Angeles trash bin.

She did not prepare for the birth of her child and she never called for help when the delivery began, Judge Janice C. Croft said at Monday's sentencing.

Wearing her blue Los Angeles County Jail uniform, Lee shook slightly as a Korean interpreter translated the verdict. Police arrested Lee on March 24, 1998, on suspicion of murder, hours after she told doctors at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles she had given birth the day before and buried the baby in a park, police said. The baby was found wrapped in a plastic bag in a Los Angeles trash bin.

David Tardiff, Lee's attorney, said she could be released in as little as eight months. Tardiff had requested a sentence of probation for his client, maintaining the jury found Lee did not intentionally harm her infant daughter.

"I am extremely disappointed by the sentence," Tardiff said. "This judge, like a lot of other judges, does whatever the district attorney wants her to do."

Tardiff, who said he plans to appeal, criticized Croft for giving no weight to Lee's cultural and religious background, which he said greatly influenced her actions. Deputy Dist. Atty. Kimberly Leong disputed Tardiff's cultural argument.

"This defendant cannot cloak herself in a culture of shame and embarrassment to excuse her conduct," said Leong, who had asked for the maximum sentence.

Leong argued that Lee acted intentionally. "This baby did not end up in the trash can on her own," she said.

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