December 21, 2001 at 10:17 PM EST - Updated July 1 at 8:40 AM
MEDINA, Ohio (AP) - A judge on Friday ordered a woman convicted as a teen of smothering her newborn son to be released from jail, where she has spent almost two years while awaiting resentencing.
Medina County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Collier said Audrey Iacona, 21, is to be under house arrest for 90 days and is to perform 250 hours of community service. She also was placed on five years probation.
Iacona (pictured as high school cheerleader, above) was convicted in 1998 of involuntary manslaughter, child endangering and abuse of a corpse for placing her newborn, Joseph Bryan Iacona-Clink, in a plastic bag after giving birth in her parents' Granger Township home in northeast Ohio.
The 9th Ohio District Court of Appeals ordered the resentencing because the original trial judge, James Kimbler, failed to say why he sentenced Iacona to eight years in prison, five years more than the minimum for a first-time offender.
Defense attorney Niki Schwartz had accused Kimbler of bias against Iacona.
Kimbler removed himself from the case last month, saying that while he could rule fairly, justice would be best served if he didn't resentence Iacona.
"If I could go back and change things, I would," a sobbing Iacona told Collier before he ordered her release. "I am sorry to my baby," she said. "I will never stop feeling the sorrow and shame of his loss."
Collier said he decided to release Iacona because he was impressed with her activities. Iacona has been taking college classes while incarcerated.
He said that Iacona's life is "the only salvageable thing" to come out of the ordeal, and that additional prison time would only do further harm.
During Iacona's trial, prosecutors claimed she called a girlfriend shortly after giving birth and told her what happened.
They said the then-17-year-old Iacona told her friend "now we can go shopping." The friend told her father, who in turn tipped off police.
Iacona has denied killing the newborn. Her attorneys have said evidence shows the baby died of an infection moments after birth in May 1997.
Iacona's attorneys appealed her conviction, claiming prosecutors withheld a blood culture report showing that the infant had a streptococcus A infection that could have been the cause of death.
Prosecutors argued that defense attorneys had access to the report months before her trial.
The appeals court refused to overturn Iacona's conviction, saying the defense failed to prove information about the infection could have altered the trial's outcome. If jurors knew about the infection, that still wouldn't have addressed Iacona's neglect of the baby, the court said.
The case eventually worked its way up to the Ohio Supreme Court, which ruled 4-3 in August that Iacona was properly convicted.
(Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)