After pleading guilty Thursday to charges that she abducted a baby after poisoning his mother, Elizabeth Ambos Ohlemacher surprised her lawyer by trying to take it back when she returned to court Monday.
Visiting Judge J. Ronald Bowman ruled that a deal's a deal. He denied Ohlemacher's motion to withdraw her guilty pleas and sentenced her to nine years in prison, the punishment worked out in a plea deal between attorneys in the case.
If she behaves herself in prison, she could be released after 6 1/2 years, Bowman said.
Ohlemacher, 34, had faced 10 felony counts stemming from charges for giving Janie Kaczor a drink that made her pass out and then briefly kidnapped Kaczor's baby son, giving him back only after Kaczor threatened to call police.
Prosecutors agreed to drop five charges, and Ohlemacher pleaded guilty Thursday to five other felony charges: attempted contaminating a substance for human consumption, tampering with records, extortion, using a sham legal process and abduction.
Kaczor sat quietly in a corner of the jury box and listened during Monday's hearing.
At times, Ohlemacher was pleading and polite. She also expressed anger and seemed to be breaking up as she listened to the prosecutor criticize her.
"I have lost sleep since then because of it not sitting well with me," said Ohlemacher, who wore handcuffs and an orange jail jumpsuit. "There is no way I will plea to something I didn't do."
Ohlemacher said she had talked to her sister and mother and concluded pleading guilty was a mistake. She noted that while a kidnapping charge against her was being dismissed, she'd pleaded guilty to abduction.
"It means exactly the same thing," she said. "I will not be labeled a kidnapper."
The mother of five told the court she did not want her children to deal with such a black mark against her.
Ohlemacher's public defender, Richard Garand, told Bowman his client's change of heart was "something of a surprise to me." He said Ohlemacher's effort to withdraw her plea was against his advice.
"It has been my advice not to proceed to trial on this case," he said.
Ohlemacher told Bowman she blamed him for "intimidating" her into pleading guilty. She said Garand told her the judge threatened her with a longer sentence if she went to trial. Bowman angrily denied threatening Ohlemacher with a longer sentence.
"I would never do that in four million years," he said. "I didn't say one word about you getting a bigger sentence. I don't know these facts. It's not for me to know."
The judge said he merely pointed out that if Ohlemacher went to trial, she would face sentencing on all 10 charges if convicted and that other facts could come to light.
Bowman said under the law he cannot allow Ohlemacher to withdraw her plea unless her rights were violated or there was evidence she didn't understand what was going on. If she knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently waived her rights to trial and pleaded guilty, he said she can't take it back.
Garand said he believed proper procedures were followed when his client pleaded guilty and that he believed she understood what was happening. He said Ohlemacher is suffering from "buyer's remorse."
Assistant Prosecutor Sandy Rubino said he gave Ohlemacher and her attorney a copy of the proposed plea agreement on Monday, three days before her guilty plea.
Under the law, a defendant can withdraw a guilty plea only to prevent manifest injustice, Rubino said.
"The only manifest injustice would be to let her withdraw her plea," Rubino said.
Ohlemacher has shown no remorse and tried to collect child support for a "nonexistent child," Rubino said.
The 34-year-old objected to Rubino's characterizations of her as a "narcissist" and "sociopath." She also objected to a remark Bowman made.
Ohlemacher said she did not understand why a county attorney, Rubino, was allowed to prosecute her after she had dated a county employee.
The judge then asked Rubino, "You didn't date her, did you?"
"I find that awful offensive," Ohlemacher told Bowman. "It's not funny."
"I'm trying to make a record," the judge said.
Garand said after the hearing he was not planning an appeal.
Kaczor left the courtroom after the hearing and said she had no comment.
Rubino said Det. Helen Prosowski of the Sandusky Police Department worked very hard on the investigation, assembling a "mountain of facts" in the case.
"As you can imagine there was a lot to the investigation," he said.
The prosecutor said he wasn't taken aback when Ohlemacher tried to withdraw her plea.
"Nothing surprised me with that particular defendant," he said.