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Blog Posted in avatar   Margaret Candler's Blog

Innocent Mom in Prison Nearly Nine Years

By Margaret Candler
Posted Nov 16, 2010 in Crime
Elsa Newman is an attorney and mother who has been in prison for nearly nine years for a crime committed by another person. Her children have been forced to grow up with the man they feared and said abused them. At least 13 suspected child abuse reports were made, most by mandated reporters. Please help her by signing a petition to free her. Go to to read more and link to the petition.
Elsa Newman's conviction
January 7, 2002
The children's godmother, a high ranking foreign service officer from the US Dept. of State, Margery Landry broke into the father's house.
September 2002
Margery Landry was charged with attempted murder, conspiracy, burglary, assault, and use of a handgun, as well as effacing the numbers on a handgun. She plea bargained to first degree assault and all the other charges were dropped.
Landry testified she broke into Slobodow's house seeking evidence of pornographic pictures the children said that their father took of them. Her plan was to search for child pornography and, if she found it, to use it as evidence of Slobodow's pedophilia. If she didn't find it, she wanted to plant the material she brought with her, photograph it, and turn it over to the police as evidence against him. She carried a gun for her protection because Slobodow had assaulted her in the past and her home had been broken into. She decided to check on the children before she left the house and found the younger child, naked, in bed with the father who was naked from the waist down. She tried to pull them apart. Slobodow forced Ms. Landry to the floor and tried to turn the gun on her. It went off, and one bullet struck the wall and one struck Slobodow in the leg. There was no bullet hole in the pajamas, verifying that he had been half naked when discovered.
Landry broke free and fled. Forty-five minutes later, Slobodow called 911 and set up the case for the prosecution in the trial that was to follow, stating: "My wife sent someone to try to kill me." He was found under his computer table two flights away from the bedroom where the assault occurred. Ms. Newman was out of town at a family wedding at the time of the break-in and shooting. She was expecting the children and their father to meet her at the wedding.
Ms. Landry testified that in her last conversation with Ms. Newman, Newman asked her to keep her distance from Slobodow. Landry testified that she acted alone, that Newman would have called the police if she knew Landry planned to go anywhere near the children with a gun, and when given the opportunity of a reduced penalty, refused to implicate Newman. Nevertheless, only Newman was charged with conspiracy and attempted murder as well as a host of other charges. The state relied on her ex-husband and her former divorce lawyer to testify against her, both of whom had strong reasons to condemn her to protect themselves. Elsa Newman was convicted of conspiracy to attempt murder, attempted murder and several crimes dependant on another’s actions.
December 2002
The Maryland Court of Appeals ordered a retrial on the grounds that the trial court improperly compelled testimony by attorney Stephen Friedman, who had served as Newman's divorce attorney and who testified that he heard Newman discuss plans to kill Slobodow.
September 27, 2005
The second trial was moved to Frederick County, Maryland due to excessive publicity in Montgomery County. Prosecutors were not allowed to use attorney Friedman's testimony. However, his legal secretary, Sandra Ashley, testified that Elsa Newman described to her the plan that Newman and Landry had made to kill Slobodow. No one else but Friedman and Ashley claimed to have heard this nonsense. Newman complained vigorously about Friedman's charges and it is hard to believe she--a woman with no inclination in her life to criminal activity-- would have talked about a crime to Friedman, whom she hated, while he was billing her $300 per hour. Despite nine search warrants of Ms. Newman, her home and her car, thousands of emails, phone calls and letters, there was no evidence to connect her to the crime. The DNA expert testified her DNA would have shown up if she had as much as breathed on anything from the crime scene. Newman was offered a reduced penalty if she apologized, but refused to admit guilt to something she did not do. She was found guilty of conspiracy and attempted murder, and sentenced to 20 years at Maryland Correctional Institution for Women at Jessup.
Mr. Slobodow insists on bringing the children to visits himself and sits almost in Ms. Newman’s lap so he can hear every word passing between her and the children. His only fear seems to be what the children say to their mother. The close proximity belies his 911 call where he names Elsa as the motivator to do him harm but it does bear out his fear that the abuse he perpetrates on the children might still get told to their mother despite the vigilant control he exercises over every contact they have with their mom. His lawyer continues to block Elsa’s efforts in court to have more time with her children. Mr. Slobodow has the same lawyer he had throughout the divorce, Stacy Talbott, whose father was a Maryland politician and a disbarred lawyer. Only a few months ago, Ms. Talbott interrupted Ms. Newman when Ms. Newman was saying to the judge that she did not want her children to feel in the future that their mother abandoned them or that they would feel guilty that they turned away from her under the influence of their father. Ms. Talbott stated, “This is just a rant.”
November 2010
Elsa Newman has served 8 years, 10 months in prison for conspiracy and attempted murder, including the nearly one year period when she was out after the conviction was vacated and the State recharged her.
The average time in prison is 5.5 years for murder.
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