Wendelsdorf allegedly admits brutality to slain toddler, local woman's taped conversation reopens mother's case.
Attorneys for a Spirit Lake woman convicted of child endangerment in the death of her daughter, 2-year-old Shelby Duis, will be allowed to present new evidence in seeking a new trial, a judge ruled Friday after a stunning twist in the case.
Kossuth County District Court Judge Joseph Straub said he would consider the motion after hearing from a Storm Lake businesswoman who testified that Jesse Wendelsdorf, the mother's former boyfriend, confessed that he killed Shelby. Julie Ballantini operates a cellular phone business in Storm Lake and had allegedly taped a phone conversation with Wendelsdorf.
Wendelsdorf, 26, was acquitted of murder and sex abuse charges in a trial in Storm Lake last July. During his trial, he adamantly denied harming the child.
In August, the child's mother, Heidi Watkins, also was acquitted of murder, but was convicted of child endangerment.
She was to have been sentenced Friday, but Straub said he would consider the motion for a new trial after learning that Wendelsdorf had allegedly told Ballantini, whom he had met since his trial, details of brutality he inflicted on Shelby.
Straub said the new evidence would be "strictly limited to the admission made by Jesse Wendelsdorf," and set a hearing for Dec. 6.
Read the rest of this article in the 12/02 Pilot Tribune.