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Elise Will

Elise Will gets prison in child abandonment

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Judge Eric J. Lundell differed from the recommendations of the prosecution and handed down a prison sentence for Elise D'Lynn Will of Hammond Thursday morning in a child abandonment conviction.

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"The public should be put on notice this is not acceptable," said Lundell and sentenced Will to three years in prison and seven years extended supervision.

Prosecutor Frank Collins recommended 90 days in jail and a three year probation period. Defense attorney Siv Yurichuk asked for a four-day weekend in jail, three years' probation and 120 days community service for each year of probation.

Lundell took into consideration the seriousness of the crime and Will's prior record in explaining his decision. "The parental discipline of your 14-year-old daughter is absolutely frowned upon by society," he said.

"If this were the first time, I could agree with the recommended sentence," Lundell said.

The judge noted Will, 37, had been convicted of felony child abuse of the daughter in June 1998 and served probation. She also was jailed on several drunken driving convictions since 1995.

The criminal complaint said Sheriff's deputy's investigating the death of a six-week- old girl at the Will's home on July 23 discovered the teenage daughter lying in a fetal position in the basement.

The girl told deputies that she had been forced to sleep on the floor in the basement because she had lost all her privileges and was not allowed a pillow or blanket. She also had to earn back the right to wear clothes other than the ones she had on.

The complaint said she had been kicked out of the house and forced to sleep in a tent in the backyard, forced to sit in a dark room for a month except for breaks to go to the bathroom or to school and to stay in a garage or outside anytime her parents were not home over a seven-month period beginning in January.

A five-year-old brother had not lost his privileges because the daughter said," he listens pretty good," according to the complaint.

During a four day stretch in July, she did not eat because she could not figure out how to do outside chores when it was raining to earn eating privileges. Her grandmother, who lived next door, took the girl into her house when she discovered she hadn't eaten. Her father forced her to return home, the complaint said.

Will, in a halting voice, made an apology to the court before sentencing. "I'm sorry for the things that happened," she said.

Lundell said he was making an effort to stay calm and not express great emotion.

"This is emotional," he said, "You chose the wrong way to deal with it. What you did is criminal -- to allow a 14-year-old to exist on her own on a cement floor in the basement."

Will's husband, Jeremy C. Will, 38, was convicted of misdemeanor child neglect Nov. 18 in connection with the investigation. The daughter was reportedly living with relatives.

An autopsy report on the infant by the Ramsey County, Minn., medical examiner could not determine the infant's cause of death.

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