Clarksville man changes his mind, pleads guilty in connection with 3-year-old's death
A Clarksville man charged in connection with the death of a 3-year-old girl has changed his mind yet again and decided to plead guilty to the crime.
JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- A Clarksville man charged in connection with the death of a 3-year-old girl has changed his mind yet again and decided to plead guilty to the crime.
According to court documents, Joseph Manske had signed a deal to plead guilty to two main charges: neglect of a dependent resulting in death for his role in 3-year-old Alexis Arensman's death and neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury for abusing her sister.
The deal was agreed upon on Friday, but on Monday morning, he backed out of the deal. On Tuesday morning, Manske decided to sign the very same plea agreement he refused the day before.
Manske, along with the child's mother, Cynthia Weigleb, are accused of neglect in connection with Alexis' February 2015 death. Medical reports show she was horrifically abused, suffering broken ribs, head injuries and a burn on her face, which likely came from her mouth being taped shut. The coroner's report cited "Battered Child Syndrome" as the cause of death.
"The truth is, I had nothing to do with her death," Manske told reporters Monday morning. "I'm not going to plead to something I did not do."
We asked Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull what might have led Manske to change his mind.
"I think he thought about it again yesterday and last night and decided that it was in his best interest to take responsibility and to plead guilty and to take this prison sentence," Mull said.
Mull told WDRB News what he said to Manske and his attorney during a meeting Monday morning before Manske initially turned down the deal.
"I said you never know what a jury is going to do," Mull said. "You could get lucky and walk out of here for something that you're guilty of. It happens from time to time. I've seen it happen in my career, but I think that you're going to be convicted."
If the case went to trial, Manske was facing up to 56 years in prison. By signing the plea deal, he agreed to serve a 35-year sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for April 24.
"I've been a prosecutor for about 18 years, and I can tell you that this is probably the toughest case that I've prosecuted as far as seeing the injuries of Alexis Arensman and Bethany Arensman and what these little girls went through," Mull said.
Mull told WDRB he's satisfied with the result because Manske will be behind bars for decades, but his job seeking justice for Alexis and her sister isn't done yet.
"My efforts now will be entirely focused on the other co-defendant the case, Cynthia Weigleb, who is set for trial in May," Mull said.
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