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Pa. woman pleads guilty in womb attack

PITTSBURGH-A woman pleaded guilty Monday to attempted homicide, assault and kidnapping for trying to cut a fetus from her neighbor’s womb. Peggy Jo Conner, 39, was accused of plotting to steal Valerie Oskin’s baby and pass it off as her own. Both Oskin and the baby survived after a boy on an all-terrain vehicle spotted the two women in a clearing.

The plea came as Conner’s trial was to begin Monday.

“I think she wanted to take responsibility and have that going for her in the sentencing hearing,” Conner’s attorney, David J. DeFazio, told The Associated Press. “She is facing repercussions to her behavior but, given her options, I think she is satisfied.”

Authorities accused her of attacking Oskin on Oct. 13, 2005, with a baseball bat at her home, then driving her to a remote location and using a razor knife to cut her abdomen in an effort to remove her unborn baby.

The ATV rider who spotted the women told his father, who called authorities.

Oskin’s baby was delivered by emergency Caesarean section and was put up for adoption, which had been Oskin’s intention before she was attacked.

Conner pleaded guilty to attempted homicide, kidnapping and two counts of aggravated assault. She was initially charged with two counts of attempted homicide, but prosecutors withdrew the charge that alleged Conner intended to kill the unborn baby.

She remains in custody pending sentencing.

Under a plea agreement, a judge will determine Conner’s degree of guilt on the attempted homicide charge that applied to Oskin. If the judge determines Conner did not attempt first-degree murder, the attempted homicide charge will be dismissed, DeFazio said.

He said he believed that would leave her facing at least three years on the assault charge and nearly two years for kidnapping.

District Attorney Scott Andreassi did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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