Jesse Wendelsdorf's arrest is unlikely to affect the sentencing of his former girlfriend on a child endangerment conviction in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Dickinson County prosecutor Edward Bjornstad said Monday.
Wendelsdorf, 26, who was acquitted in August of a murder charge in the death of Shelby Duis, testified last week at a hearing for the toddler's mother, Heidi Watkins. He admitted on the stand that he had lied about how he arrived at the hearing and was arrested Friday on a perjury charge.
"The evidence against Jesse Wendelsdorf for perjury should not have any bearing on the Watkins' verdict - it's a separate and unrelated matter," Bjornstad said.
Watkins' attorneys are seeking a new trial or an overturning of her conviction on child endangerment charges in Shelby's death. Judge Joseph Straub was expected to issue his ruling this week.
Wendelsdorf was forced to testify last week after a friend, Julie Ballantini, testified that he had confessed to her this fall that he had killed the toddler. Straub could order a new trial for Watkins, acquit her, or find her guilty of child endangerment or a lesser charge.
Bjornstad argues that neither Wendelsdorf nor Ballantini were credible witnesses. Watkins faces up to 50 years in prison. Wendelsdorf is being held at the Kossuth County Jail on a $2,500 bond. Perjury is punishable by up to 5 years in prison.