A 43-year-old Northlake, Ill., woman pleaded no contest Friday to three crimes stemming from a June 13 incident incident in which two of her children were found bound by their hands and feet in a Lawrence Walmart parking lot.
Deborah Gomez pleaded no contest to three counts of child endangerment, and she agreed to testify in the upcoming trial of her husband, Aldolfo Gomez, 52.
Aldolfo Gomez is charged with two counts of child abuse and five counts of child endangerment and is scheduled for trial Jan. 7.
Prosecutors said at Friday's hearing that they will recommend Deborah Gomez be sentenced to one year of probation. The maximum sentence for child endangerment, a misdemeanor, is a year in jail.
However, she remains in custody and will not be sentenced until after her husband's trial. Deborah Gomez originally had been charged with the same crimes as her husband, but after she testifies in his trial, the four other charges against her will be dismissed, according to a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin — lifting a no-contact order — also opened the door for Deborah Gomez to have contact with her five children, ages 5, 7, 12, 13 and 15. That decision, however, will be made by another judge in the custody case.
The 5- and 7-year-old were found bound outside the family's van, while the other children were inside the vehicle, unbound. Testimony at prior hearings indicates the family was in Lawrence on its way from Illinois, heading to Arizona.
Angela Keck, Deborah Gomez's court-appointed attorney, said her client decided to plead no contest and avoid trial because she did not want her children to have to testify.
"She wanted to make sure her kids didn't have to go through the trauma" of a trial, Keck said.
Keck said her client, like the children, was a victim of a controlling, abusive husband and father.
"She did everything she could to protect her kids," Keck said. "But she couldn't go against Adolfo."
But with the arrests, Deborah Gomez has been freed, Keck said.
"She wants him to know she's done with his control and dominance," Keck said.
Aldolfo — who is in jail on a $50,000 bond — has previously testified that he and his children were fearful of demon possession. In June, Martin declared Adolfo competent to stand trial.
Douglas County prosecutors said the children have been placed in protective custody.