WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 26, 2010, 08:01 AM

Mother of injured conjoined twin gets probation

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) — A Mankato woman who gave birth to conjoined twins has been sentenced to two years of probation in a case over severe injuries to one of boys.

Valerie James pleaded guilty in June to felony negligence. The charges against James and her ex-boyfriend, Robert Heck, stemmed from 25 broken bones suffered by one of the twins, who were separated shortly after birth in 2006. Heck recently was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Prosecutors say James should have protected the boy and gotten him medical care sooner.

The Post-Bulletin reports that at her sentencing Wednesday in Rochester, Judge Joseph Chase ordered a mental evaluation, noting the 23-year-old woman already has given birth to five children. One died at birth.

Defense attorney Fred Suhler says James can't be punished any more than she already has, noting that she has permanently lost custody of her children.