ST. PETER — A sentencing hearing for a rural North Mankato couple who pleaded guilty to abusing and neglecting their malnourished child ended with Mona Hauer being led away to jail and her husband, Russell, sobbing outside a St. Peter courtroom.
Mona Hauer, 45, received 60 days in jail on Tuesday with the term to begin immediately. Russell Hauer, 45, received 30 days in jail, a sentence that will start after his wife is released.
Both are also required to serve 30 days of Sentence to Service and Russell Hauer will be required to serve another 15 days on electronic home monitoring. With good behavior in jail, both of their sentences could each be reduced to two-thirds of the total time.
Nicollet County District Court Judge Allison Krehbiel set aside arguments by the Hauers' attorney, Christopher Rosengren, that the three children still living with the couple would be harmed if their parents were sent to jail. He asked that they be placed on home monitoring. A request to allow Mona Hauer to have work release from jail so she could homeschool the children also was denied.
Krehbiel said she reviewed dozens of letters written both on behalf of the Hauers and the now 9-year-old boy who has been permanently removed from their home. She said arriving at a fair sentence wasn't easy because the case was emotionally charged and guidelines had been set through a plea agreement.
Mona Hauer pleaded guilty in October to a felony-level charge accusing her of causing substantial harm to her child, who was 8 years old when she brought him to a hospital, as a result of her neglect. Russell Hauer pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor charge accusing him of neglect that could have resulted in substantial harm.
The Alford plea allowed the Hauers to maintain their innocence but admit enough evidence existed for a jury to find them guilty of that charge and several others filed against them nearly a year ago. Nicollet County Attorney Michelle Zehnder Fischer said she accepted the Alford plea and a 60-day cap on jail time to avoid putting the boy through the trauma of testifying at two trials, one for each of his former adoptive parents.