OREGON – A status hearing in the effort to determine if an Oregon mom accused of suffocating her 7-year-old son almost 18 months ago is fit to stand trial will be held Oct. 26.
Sarah Safanek, 35, is in Ogle County jail on $2 million bond; she pleaded not guilty May 6, 2021, to five counts of first-degree murder and one count of aggravated battery of a child in the suffocation of Nathaniel Burton.
An autopsy showed the boy also suffered a ruptured liver.
On Oct. 12, Judge John Redington learned that Safranek was examined by Dr. Jayne Braden, a forensic and clinical psychologist in Sycamore, and her report was submitted. Both sides will be examining its results, and a further discussion will be held in during the status hearing.
If needed, an actual fitness hearing might be scheduled at that time.
One of her public defenders, Michael O’Brien, requested the fitness exam for Safranek, and Redington approved the request Sept. 1 after finding “a bona fide doubt” as to her mental fitness, the order granting the evaluation said.
Safranek has had vision problems that impair her ability to read, and also fell and hit her head, which caused vomiting and difficulties eating, and exacerbated her vision problems, which hurts her ability to aid in her defense, the request said.
Nathaniel was found unresponsive and not breathing in his bed in the 400 block of South 10th Street about 2:30 a.m. Feb. 17, 2021, and was pronounced dead at KSB Hospital in Dixon later that day.
Safranek was arrested two months later, on April 21, and indicted May 4, 2021.
She faces 20 years to life in prison if convicted of murder and six to 30 years if convicted of aggravated battery.