Grandmother Charged with Snatching Toddler Innocent by Insanity

Grandmother Charged with Snatching Toddler Innocent by Insanity

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- A woman accused of snatching her 19-month-old granddaughter and drowning the child in the Snake River in Idaho was found innocent of kidnapping by reason of insanity Monday.

Kelley Jean Lodmell still faces kidnapping and first-degree murder charges in Bonneville County, Idaho. Prosecutors say she took young Acacia Bishop from her Salt Lake City home in May 2003, fleeing with the baby to Idaho Falls and jumping with the child into the Snake River.

Though Lodmell, then 39, climbed back out of the swift water near the Idaho Power Plant, the child's body was never found.

Lodmell knew her actions were wrong, said U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball. But experts for both the defense and the prosecution agreed that she suffered from severe mental illness, most likely a type of schizophrenia.

"As a result, the defendant was unable to appreciate the nature and quality of her actions at the time of the kidnapping. As such, the defendant was not criminally responsible for her acts at the time of the offense," Kimball said.

Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Utah, said federal prosecutors will ask the judge to commit Lodmell to a locked mental health facility as a danger to the public. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Feb. 11.

The prosecutor for the murder and kidnapping case in Idaho said he would wait to see what happens before moving forward with the trial.

"Our main objective in this case is to ensure that the defendant is held in custody," said Bonneville County Prosecutor Dane Watkins Jr. "There is no statute of limitations on murder."

If the federal judge agrees that Lodmell should be committed, she would be held until she could prove that she was not a danger to society, Rydalch said.

"It's not necessarily for life, but could potentially be. We're confident that the record in this case will support a commitment for a substantial length of time," she said.

Though Lodmell was not allowed to be alone with Acacia, she allegedly was able to grab the child from the home of great-grandparents Linda and Dick Lodmell while the great-grandparents were babysitting. Kelley Lodmell later allegedly told investigators that she first planned to keep the child but later jumped in the river with Acacia in a murder-suicide attempt.

Though searchers looked for weeks, they could not find Acacia's body. The toddler's parents, Adam Bishop and Casey Lodmell, have maintained hopes that Acacia is actually alive.

They've received three letters and a card from Lodmell, who wrote in one that "she hopes whoever has Acacia is treating her well."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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