NEW BRUNSWICK — A New Brunswick woman pleaded guilty today to charges of helping an Edison man abandon his 20-month-old daughter at a gas station restroom, and then trying to protect him from police before they charged him with murdering the toddler’s mother, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan announced.
Ritu Loi, 26, admitted a count of endangering the welfare of the child, Hannah Belizaire Jackson, and hindering the apprehension of Dwayne Jackson, 26.
Loi pleaded guilty to the charges during a hearing today before Superior Court Judge Bradley Ferencz, who permitted her to remain free on her own recognizance. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Loi faces a probationary term of five years when she is sentenced, and must testify truthfully against Jackson at his trial.
No trial date has been set for Jackson. Loi is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 31, 2011.
During questioning by Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Sheree Pitchford at a hearing in the Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick, Loi said she was with Jackson when he drove her car to Newark, Del., and left the child in a gas station restroom on Feb. 21.
Loi also told the court she hindered the apprehension of Jackson when she initially told police on Febr. 24 that she did not have any information about the homicide of the toddler’s mother, Patricia Belizaire, 25, of North Brunswick.
Loi and Jackson were arrested and charged after an investigation by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the North Brunswick Police Department determined that Jackson killed Ms. Belizaire in North Brunswick on Feb. 21 and drove the victim to Ramapo, N.Y., where the body was set on fire in a park shortly before 5:22 a.m. on Feb. 22.
The cause of death was asphyxiation. The woman was dead before her body was set on fire. Jackson subsequently was charged with murder and hindering his apprehension. He also was charged with kidnapping and endangering the welfare of his 20-month-old daughter.
He is being held at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center in North Brunswick in lieu of $2.75 million bail. As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against Jackson are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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