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Judge won't release woman held in son's 1991 death

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Crime,Florida

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — An attorney for a woman arrested in the death of her 5-year-old son more than two decades ago questioned what evidence authorities might have and decried the "theatrics" of her arrest as a judge refused to release her.

Michelle Lodzinski, 47, of Port St. Lucie, was arrested Aug. 7 in the 1991 killing of her son, Timothy Wiltsey, whom she had said went missing at a Sayreville, New Jersey, carnival. Lodzinski's attorney, Robert Watson, said his client has lived at the same address and worked the same job for years, that police were aware of her whereabouts and had even collected a new hair sample from her in 2012.

He questioned why Lodzinski was being held without bond and labeled a fugitive from justice, which he called "factually inaccurate," and asked why she was taken into custody the day Wiltsey would have turned 29, with a news photographer standing by.

"If you really have the evidence, you don't usually need the theatrics," Watson said Friday.

Police haven't said what led to a formal charge after 23 years.

Asked what new evidence they might have, Watson responded: "I don't know that there is any."

In a ruling from chambers this week, Circuit Judge Elizabeth Metzger denied Watson's motion to set bond for Lodzinski or release her altogether. She deferred judgment on a petition for writ of habeas corpus, the legal principle, enshrined in the Constitution, which allows courts to determine whether a prisoner is being held illegally.

Wiltsey's skeletal remains were found in a marshy area of Edison, New Jersey, in April 1992, 11 months after he was reported missing from the carnival. At the time of his disappearance, investigators said Lodzinski's story changed as police questioned her.

Watson said his client "adamantly denies" the charges, and while she was surprised by her arrest, he said she took some solace in knowing long-held suspicions of her involvement might finally be put to rest.

"Anybody would have trepidation going into this," he said, "but there's also some relief that this could finally be laid to rest."

Lodzinski is due to appear before Metzger on Sept. 4.

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Follow Matt Sedensky on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sedensky

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