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Emily Welker, Published July 22 2013

Fort Ransom mother accused of killing son wants statement tossed

LISBON, N.D. – The defense attorney for a Fort Ransom woman accused of killing her nearly 2-year-old son is asking the judge in the case to throw out an interview during which she told police the child hit his head as she was changing his diaper.

Jodi Renae Lindvall, 29, has pleaded not guilty in Ransom County District Court to charges of murder and child neglect or abuse connected to the Sept. 22, 2012, death of her son, Bentley.

Lindvall’s attorney, Peter Wold, filed a motion to suppress an Oct. 1 interview in which police say Lindvall confessed to hurting Bentley. According to Wold, Lindvall had not been given a Miranda warning, which is generally required when police interview suspects in custody.

An affidavit of probable cause filed in the case alleges Lindvall told investigators after Bentley hit his head while she was changing his diaper, she laid him down for his nap and didn’t see him again until her live-in boyfriend came home four hours later and woke her up to tell her there was something wrong with the boy.


Ransom County State’s Attorney Fallon Kelly argues in court filings that Lindvall was not in custody at the time investigators questioned her about her son’s injuries.

Kelly claims Lindvall was told by investigators she was free to leave at any time during the interview and was not required to speak with the special agents, whose conduct he said was compassionate and non-threatening.

At one point during the interview, Lindvall stood up, walked around the interview table to the side where Special Agent Shelby Franklin was and hugged him, Kelly wrote.

The prosecutor argues that Lindvall never asked to speak with an attorney. She did ask to speak with her mother, Kelly said in his response to the motion, but the agents denied the request because she was not a minor.

Attorneys argued the motion in a hearing Monday.

Each side has two weeks to submit additional written arguments before Judge John Paulson takes the motion under advisement and later issues a ruling, Kelly said.

One charge dropped

If convicted on the murder charge, Lindvall faces up to life in prison without parole. A conviction on the child abuse charge could bring 20 years in prison.

An additional child abuse charge was dropped when a judge ruled prosecutors couldn’t establish probable cause that Lindvall was the person who caused older, healing injuries discovered on the boy’s body during an autopsy.

Defense attorney Kent Marshall said Monday the case will likely be set for a February or March trial.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541