Toronto Star

Sep. 23, 05:40 EDT

Mother in video beating case to seek mercy

Madelyne Toogood will likely plead guilty, seek leniency, lawyer says

Toronto Star

REGRETS: Madelyne Toogood says daughter Martha, shown on video still,

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) The woman caught on video beating her four-year-old daughter in a department store parking lot will probably plead guilty and throw herself on the mercy of the court, her lawyer said today.

Madelyne Gorman Toogood, 25, was arraigned on a felony charge of battery to a child, and a magistrate entered a not guilty plea on her behalf.

But her lawyer, Steven Rosen, said there was no point in trying to challenge the surveillance videotape in court.

"I don't think there's anything, any expert of any degree in any type of credibility that can do anything about that tape. It is what it is," he said.

"We will probably enter a guilty plea and throw ourselves on the mercy of the court," he said after the arraignment.

Earlier today, a Probate Court judge ordered that Toogood's daughter, Martha, remain in foster care in the meantime, and he gave child-protection officials two weeks to recommend who should care for the girl.

If convicted, Toogood could get up to three years in prison. She faces a hearing on Oct. 7.

The mother of three had no comment as she left court. She remained free on $5,000 (U.S.) bail.

"People might think I'm a monster, but I've been a mother for six years, and no harm has come to my children before this, never," Toogood told CNN earlier today. "I'm sorry. That's all I can say."

A doctor examined the girl and found no medical problems and no long-term signs of abuse, authorities said.

Toogood told reporters Sunday she hit her daughter in the head and back and pulled her hair but did not punch her. On the video of the Sept. 13 incident, which has been televised nationally, Toogood appears to make punching motions toward her daughter inside a sport utility vehicle.

"Martha didn't deserve what she got," Toogood said over the weekend. "I just lost my temper."

Rosen said he believed the hitting took place because Martha misbehaved in the store, taking toys out of packages and wandering away, prompting store employees to page Toogood twice.

Toogood said she hopes to be reunited with her daughter and that she, her daughter, and her husband, John, plan to start parenting classes. "Anything that they want us to do, we will do," Toogood said.

She said her two young sons are staying with family.

Toogood said she and her husband have been living in Mishawaka for about six months.

Toogood's sister also was arraigned today on a charge of assisting a criminal.

Copyright © 1996-2002. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited.