POLK COUNTY, Mo – A Polk County woman pleaded guilty Wednesday in connection with the 2016 death of her blind, autistic son.
Kimberly Lightwine, 43-years-old, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, reports the Springfield News-Leader.
Lightwine’s attorney Jason Coatney said Lightwine – who once faced a possible life sentence – could spend as little as 120 days in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Coatney said Lightwine will enter a 120-day substance abuse treatment program through the prison system. If she successfully completes that program, she will be released on 5 years probation. If not, Lightwine could spend 7 years in prison.
Lightwine was originally charged with second-degree murder after authorities say her 19-year-old son, Austin Anderson, was found dead in a field in August 2016.
Polk County deputies say Lightwine was lying next to her dead son when they arrived on scene – both Lightwine and Anderson were wearing nothing but their underwear.
Authorities say Anderson had a swollen brain from dehydration and could have gone into shock after not taking a vital medication.
Lightwine had a broken leg and broken jaw.
Deputies say Lightwine told them at the time that she drove her son out to the field and let him die.
Coatney said Wednesday Lightwine has no memory of what led up to her being found in the field, but he believes she might have been assaulted by someone, says the News-Leader.
Coatney said Lightwine could not take responsibility for knowingly harming her son, but she could take responsibility for behaving recklessly – which she did with Wednesday’s plea.
“I was pleased that the state was agreeable to this,” Coatney said. “Frankly, I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Prosecutors initially planned to argue that Lightwine committed the felony of elder abuse, and Anderson died as a result of that felony (in Missouri elder abuse can apply to disabled adults).