JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The sentencing hearing for Lonna Barton, the mother of the toddler who disappeared last summer and is presumed dead, has been delayed to the end of next month.
Barton, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to charges of child neglect and giving false information to a law enforcement officer, was set to be sentenced Monday. Her sentencing has been postponed until Feb. 29.
When Barton pleaded guilty, she gave up her Fifth Amendment rights, which means that if the prosecution or defense calls her as a witness in Ruben Ebron's trial, she can't say no.
Barton and Ebron, who were dating at the time, were charged with child neglect and lying to police after Barton's son, Lonzie, disappeared in July.
Barton, 26, took an oath during her plea that she will tell the truth if she is called to testify.
The child neglect charge, a third-degree felony, carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, and the charge of lying to police, which is a misdemeanor, carries a punishment of up to one year in jail. The sentences would run concurrently.
The neglect charges stem from before Lonzie disappeared. Prosecutors claim that Barton and Ebron didn't take proper care of the boy, didn't get him medical treatment when he was sick and exposed him to lifestyles involving drugs and other illegal activities.
DOCUMENT: Lonna Barton's guilty plea
Barton's lawyer, Kevin Carlisle, said Barton left Lonzie, who was 21 months old at the time, with Ebron on the night the boy disappeared and went to work as an exotic dancer. Police said that Ebron claimed that his car was stolen with the boy inside, but said Ebron was caught on camera ditching the vehicle near his apartment before he called police.
Ebron long maintained that he had nothing to do with the toddler's disappearance, but days after Barton entered her guilty plea and then testified against Ebron in a preliminary hearing, Ebron led police to a wooded area of Bayard where a child's remains were found.
The Medical Examiner's Office is working to confirm if the remains are Lonzie's.
Carlisle said Judge Mark Borello will decide the length of Barton's sentence, which could be a maximum of five years or a minimum of time already served.