Baumgartner plea stands, appeals court says

SANDUSKY Elsebeth Baumgartner will not be allowed to withdraw her plea of no contest to charges of f
Sarah Weber
May 24, 2010



Elsebeth Baumgartner will not be allowed to withdraw her plea of no contest to charges of failure to comply, fleeing and eluding police and resisting arrest that date back to June 2005.

The Sixth Appellate District Court of Erie County decided to uphold the Erie County Court of Common Pleas April 2007 ruling that denied Baumgartner's motion to withdraw her plea of no contest to the charges.

The decision means Erie County Court of Common Pleas can continue with the prosecution of Baumgartner's case.

The appellate court said in its decision it found the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Baumgartner's motion.

Baumgartner said in her appeal she was coerced into entering the plea, and her competency had been compromised because she was denied her anti-anxiety medication.

The charges are the result of a May 2005 incident in which Baumgartner was arrested for allegedly fleeing from police when they attempted to serve her with a warrant for violating the terms of her probation.

She was additionally charged with one count of grand theft of a motor vehicle, which was later dismissed.

According to court records, joint negotiations in November 2006 involving cases in Erie, Cuyahoga and Ottawa counties resulted in an agreement that Baumgartner would enter a plea of no contest to the charges if her motions to suppress and/or dismiss the case in Erie County were denied.

The Erie County Common Pleas Court denied Baumgartner's motion to dismiss the case in February 2007. At a hearing the following month, Baumgartner entered the plea of no contest, which the court accepted.

Baumgartner's motion to withdraw the plea was filed in April 2007 and denied days later.

The appellate court concluded if Baumgartner were allowed to withdraw the plea, it would have influenced the prosecution.

According to the decision, "(The) appellant's case had been pending since 2005, and if the plea were vacated, the state would have been forced to go to trial with witnesses testifying to an event that occurred well over two years earlier."

The appellate court also found in reviewing the case that Baumgartner "...knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily entered the pleas" and was represented competently by two attorneys at her plea hearing.

Baumgartner, 53, is being held at the Ohio Reformatory for Women as the result of a court decision in Cuyahoga County.