Grandmother pleads not guilty in baby's sledgehammer death

November 15, 2013 (OAK LAWN, Ill.)

The Southtown Star reports Alfreda Giedrojc appeared briefly in court Thursday, along with an interpreter.

The 62-year-old is being held without bail for the October death of Vivian Summers. Prosecutors say the Oak Lawn woman used a sledgehammer and knife to kill the infant.

Giedrojc's lawyer is Cook County Assistant Public Defender Michael Wilson. He says it was too early to discuss a defense strategy. But Wilson said Giedrojc doesn't speak English well enough to participate in proceedings and asked for an interpreter to help with the case.

Giedrojc was born in Poland and came to the U.S. about three decades ago.

"It's so sad," said Caren Hennessy, the defendant's neighbor. "It's not what you want to hear."

Officers were called to the house for a report of an armed suspect. When they got there, police say they were told that a baby had suffered a significant injury. The child was pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Medical Center.

Some neighbors said they were shaken by the baby's death. They also described the family who lives in the home as good people.

"We're not close to the family. They are polish speaking but they're friendly by saying hi and waving," said Ed Hennessy, neighbor.

Authorities say the attack happened in the home Giedrojc shared with her husband. Prosecutors say the infant, whose family lives in Bolingbrook, was brought home for a visit.

According to investigators, Vivian's father and grandfather left the home briefly to help another relative who lives across the street with a rehab project when Giedrojc killed the baby.

"The defendant took the victim off of the couch where she had been sleeping and placed the baby on the floor and retrieved a sledgehammer from her closet, which she had placed there the night before," said Michael Deno, Assistant Cook County State's Attorney. "The defendant then hit the victim repeatedly in the head and body with the sledgehammer. Since the victim was still crying and moving the defendant went into the kitchen and retrieved a large carving knife.The defendant then picked the victim up, held her, and then slit her throat with the knife."

The child's grandfather returned to make the gruesome discovery and called 911.

Police would not comment on Giedrojc's mental health or a motive for the baby's murder, which is the village's first in nearly 10 years.

"It is a tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. This is a difficult time for everybody, including our officers and the people that responded to the scene," said Oak Lawn Police Chief Michael Murray.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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