LE MARS, Iowa -- Adamant that she only aided and abetted in the death of her adopted son, Lisa Boss on Monday pleaded guilty to four felony charges and agreed to a 50-year prison sentence.
Boss, 35, of Remsen, had been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and child endangerment for the Feb. 23, 2000, beating death of her 10-year-old adopted son, Timothy.
Boss, who now goes by the name Lisa Green since her recent marriage to fellow Plymouth County Jail inmate Joseph Green, signed a plea agreement Saturday in which she agreed to plead guilty to attempted murder, voluntary manslaughter, child endangerment and willful injury.
She stressed that her ex-husband, Donald Boss Jr., had killed Timothy and that she had either allowed the death to happen or acted jointly with him. Twice she clarified to District Judge Duane E. Hoffmeyer that she was not pleading guilty to committing the actions that killed Timothy.
"I'm pleading guilty to aiding and abetting these charges, is that correct?" Lisa Green asked Hoffmeyer as he read the elements of each crime.
Hoffmeyer said he phrased the charges to imply that the aiding and abetting theory was being used by prosecutors.
"Are we still square on that?" Hoffmeyer asked Green.
"I think so," she said.
Prosecutors had alleged that Donald Boss and Green tied Timothy to a metal folding chair in their basement and beat him to death with a paddle or board. Boss testified at his trial that they buried Timothy because they were afraid the state would take their children away. Boss, 39, was found guilty almost a year ago of first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence without parole.
Timothy was being punished, Green said, because he had had inappropriate sexual contact with one of his siblings or had made a sexual comment toward her.
Green will be sentenced Dec. 8 in Plymouth County District Court. She had been scheduled to stand trial Dec. 2 in Council Bluffs. The trial was moved from Le Mars because of pretrial publicity. Green told Hoffmeyer she did not mind giving up her right to a public trial by pleading guilty.
"That's one thing I didn't want," she said.
Had Green been found guilty of first-degree murder and/or first-degree kidnapping, she would have been sentenced to life in prison without parole. Under the amended charges, she agreed to a 25-year sentence for attempted murder, 10 years each for manslaughter and child endangerment and five years for willful injury. Under Iowa law, Green must serve at least 70 percent, or 17.5 years of the attempted murder sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
After the hearing, lead defense attorney Robert Sikma of Sioux City said Monday's action brought a tragic situation near an end. He said Green had been an overburdened mother taking care of seven biological children and four special-needs children that had been placed in her home when the family lived in Michigan. Teachers he interviewed called Green one of the most helpful, attentive parents they worked with, Sikma said.
The stress and trauma Green has endured in the past two years is unimaginable, Sikma said.
"It is very unfortunate, but I think it is far better than the risk and trauma of trial," he said.
Green does hope to maintain contact with her children, Sikma said, but he would not comment on pending legal action to terminate her parental rights.
Plymouth County Attorney Darin Raymond said he did not want to comment on the case until after Green's sentencing hearing.
On Jan. 2, 2002, Plymouth County authorities were asked to check on the safety of Timothy after relatives in Michigan had told police there that they hadn't seen the boy for several months. Donald Boss was arrested that day, but Lisa Green left Remsen with the children. She was found three days later in Montana and was returned to Iowa. She was held as a material witness in her ex-husband's trial, but did not testify against him.
Timothy's body was found Feb. 27, 2002, after Boss gave directions to where the body was located. Green was arrested and charged Dec. 17, the day after Boss was sentenced.
She was granted a divorce from Boss last month and on Nov. 3 married Green, who had been in jail since April, when he was shot by a sheriff's deputy at the end of a high-speed chase. Green, 27, of Oakdale, Neb., was sentenced last week to 15 years in prison for second-degree arson, assault on a peace officer and eluding.
Nick Hytrek can be reached at 712-293-4226 or firstname.lastname@example.org