Pottsville woman sent to state prison for son's death
POTTSVILLE - Trembling and weeping, Jennifer K. Bossler admitted Monday to a Schuylkill County judge that prosecutors could prove she killed her 1-year-old son in April in Pottsville, although she could not recall doing it.
"I can't remember it," said Bossler, 29, of Pottsville, who is headed to state prison after pleading no contest to charges of criminal homicide and aggravated assault in connection with the death of James Blake Bossler.
Judge Cyrus Palmer Dolbin accepted the plea and, pursuant to an agreement between prosecutors and Bossler, sentenced the defendant to spend 7 1/2 to 15 years in a state correctional institution, pay costs and $50 to the Criminal Justice Enhancement Account, undergo a mental health evaluation and submit a DNA sample to law enforcement authorities.
"Are you doing this of your own free will?" Dolbin asked Bossler, who shook almost the entire 30-minute hearing while wearing handcuffs and a prison jumpsuit.
"Yes," she answered.
"Are you doing this because it is in your own best interest?"
"Whose decision is it to plead?" the judge said.
"Mine," Bossler said.
By pleading no contest, Bossler did not admit committing the crimes but offered no defense to them, agreed that prosecutors had sufficient evidence to prove her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and agreed to be sentenced as if she had been found, or pleaded, guilty.
"Everybody thought it was fair," Assistant District Attorney Leo Breznik said of the plea agreement.
Assistant Public Defender Andrea L. Thompson, Jennifer Bossler's lawyer, declined to comment on the case after the hearing.
Pottsville police charged Bossler with suffocating her son about 5:30 p.m. April 1 at her residence at 218 W. Market St., Apt. 2.
Police said Officers Joseph Welsh and Richard Pugh were called to the home about 5:30 p.m. and found Bossler performing CPR on her son, who was in cardiac arrest.
The boy, who had signs of bruising on his back and ear, was taken to Schuylkill Medical Center-South Jackson Street and pronounced dead there at 6:01 p.m., according to police.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Supriya Kurvilla conducted an autopsy on the boy April 3 at Reading Hospital and Medical Center, West Reading, and determined that James Bossler died from "asphyxia by undetermined means," according to police.
Kurvilla also said there was no significant disease that would have caused the death, no explanation why he died and that he was outside the range of a vast majority of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome deaths, police said.
Police also said Bossler gave them a statement that she put her son on his stomach in his crib and used both of her hands to put downward pressure on his head and back when he would not stop crying. Bossler also said that her son struggled until he became quiet and stopped breathing, according to police.
"I have no recollection of that," Bossler told Dolbin of the statement she allegedly made.
Even after the hearing, Richard Gates, Jennifer Bossler's father, could not comprehend either the death of his grandson or the actions of his daughter.
"I'm lost for words. I just can't believe this happened. It tears me up," Gates said. "I'm very heartbroken. I don't know what to do. I still love her. I know what she did was wrong."