Dateline NBC
By Hoda Kotb Correspondent
NBC News
DATELINE-COURT TV EXCLUSIVE

In a sun-splashed home in Des Moines, Iowa, the gifts had been opened, the visitors had gone, and a new family had settled in. It was two weeks after Mike and Heidi Anfinson had brought a baby home from the hospital: a boy, a first-born son, named Jacob.

Heidi Anfinson: [It was] a new world, a new life, a new beginning.

On that Sunday, Mike Anfinson would say goodbye to his wife and son, and leave the house for a day of 4-wheeling with friends.

Mike Anfinson: He was laying right next to me on the  bed while Heidi was getting her shower. I kind of took care of him, which all that amounted to was putting the pacifier in his mouth, and cuddling him, or something.

That would be the last moments he would ever spend with Jacob.

Hoda Kotb, Dateline correspondent: Sometimes people say when something bad happens, they had this premonition.

Mike Anfinson: I had no premonition. I thought everything was fine.

But when Mike Anfinson returned home five hours later, looking forward to seeing his wife and son, he found Heidi asleep in bed. And Jacob, gone.

Kotb: So what did you do when you first realized he wasn’t around?

Mike Anfinson: I started panicking.

Police roared to the house about 3:30 p.m. after Mike’s call for help.

Police searched the home, the yard, the neighborhood. Nothing. Baby Jacob was missing.

Where was baby Jacob? Investigators piecing things together quickly learned that Mike and Heidi had lived together for 10 years before Heidi had gotten pregnant.

Mike was a computer engineer at Norwest mortgage. And Heidi had only recently left Jimmy’s Cafe as assistant manager and most-requested waitress. They’d bought a house, and gotten married, to prepare for Jacob’s birth.

Mike Anfinson: I just cried when he came out, I’d never felt that much joy before.

Heidi Anfinson: It is a big change to leave the house as two people and come back and you’re three.

But now, just 15 days later, Jacob was missing.

And police at the scene found nothing amiss. The house had door and window locks, and an electronic security system that a previous homeowner had installed after a burglary. Investigators wondered, what could have happened here? 

And why, when everyone else was frantically searching, was Heidi Anfinson sitting quietly in the dining room looking at photos, and smoking cigarettes?

Mike Anfinson: We both weren’t thinking correctly at the time. I mean they were asking me a lot of questions. I didn’t know up from down.

Police put the Anfinsons in a patrol car, and drove downtown.

Mike Anfinson: We didn’t understand what was going on. It was hell on earth.

At the police station, husband and wife were separated. Heidi was taken to an interrogation room.

Lieutenant Randy Dawson began the questions.

(police tape) Lt. Randy Dawson: Is it possible you could have rolled over on him?

Heidi Anfinson: Oh no.

Lt. Dawson: You know, if something like that happened it would be an accident.

Heidi Anfinson: I know. No, I didn’t roll over on him.

Heidi insisted she’d gone to sleep with Jacob in a bouncy chair next to her bed shortly after noon, and at some point she thought she heard someone enter the room.

Heidi Anfinson: It’s hard to explain. I just felt like maybe in my sleep and I just thought Mike came in and picked the baby up.

But her husband had been away all afternoon four-wheeling. His alibi checked out. It was Heidi, who had none.

(police tape) Lt. Dawson: We need to find him right now. Right now Heidi, we can’t wait any longer.

Heidi Anfinson: I wanna find him!

Lt. Dawson: You know you need to help us.

Heidi Anfinson: I know. I want to find him!

Lt. Dawson: Can you give us an idea where we can look?

Heidi Anfinson: I have no idea.

Lt. Dawson: People walking into other people’s houses and taking babies? I’ve been here 20 years and that’s never happened to anyone. That’s TV stuff. That doesn’t happen.

Heidi Anfinson: Did you find fingerprints or anything?

Lt. Dawson: We’re doing that now. Will you go with me Heidi?

Heidi Anfinson: I don’t know where to go.

When the exasperated detectives finally ended the first, then a second interview, Jacob had been missing for more than six hours— too long, police thought, too long for a newborn to survive without food or help. Too long for any 15-day old baby  to be left alone.

Then, a break in the case.

Police once again put Mike and Heidi Anfinson in patrol cars—and drove them to a place where they would  find the answer to the question: where was baby Jacob?

Less than 24 hours after baby Jacob Anfinson’s body was found, his mother Heidi was accused in connection with his disappearance. Child endangerment was the charge. But there would soon be one more: Murder in the first-degree is what county attorney John Sarcone called it. That meant it was no mere accident, or careless mistake, but pre-meditated murder.

It was a charge Mike and Heidi Anfinson could not comprehend.

Heidi Anfinson: Totally unbelievable.

What had happened? And how had baby Jacob died? The answers would begin to come a year later in September of 1999, when the murder trial of Heidi Anfinson began.

The prosecution's case
The first officers to arrive at the Anfinson home after baby Jacob was reported missing testified they noticed right away that something was wrong with the way Heidi was acting.

In court, a police officer described it as "cold." She was described as sitting at the dining room table looking at photos and smoking cigarettes, while others frantically searched. She wasn’t yelling or screaming or anything like that, said the police officers.

Prosecutors said that was the real Heidi Anfinson— cold and unemotional— not the woman the jury now saw crying in court every day.

John Sarcone, Polk county attorney: My feeling was those were tears for herself, and not for what had happened, and not what she had done to that baby.

Next, the state presented Heidi’s interrogation by detectives.

(police tape) Detective: Can you give us an idea where we can look?

Heidi Anfinson: I have no idea.

Prosecutors pointed out she’d lied to police dozens of times before her facade finally crumbled six hours after Jacob was reported missing— and she made a surprising proposal, to this detective.

(court transcript) Det. Bjornson: She then told me, or asked me, if I could find her a cigarette.

Prosecution attorney: What’d you tell her?

Bjornson: I stated I would try. And she said if I could find her one, she would help me.

Detectives testified it was shortly after Heidi Anfinson had gotten a cigarette, about 10:30 that night, that she finally led police to Saylorville lake.

In these waters, 16-miles from the Anfinson home, lay the object of their search.

Lt. Dawson: She pointed out to them an area where she said she’d put Jacob.

And what investigators found left even hardened veteran detectives, shaken.

Harvey: I went over and observed the baby. It appeared to me it was in one foot of water. It was laying on its back.

Lt. Dawson: There was no signs of life. There was no reason for us to move it.

Had Heidi Anfinson put her own son in a car, driven him to a lake almost 30 minutes away, placed baby Jacob underwater, and simply left him there?

Sarcone: There’s no question in my mind that that baby was submerged in that water, he was still alive, and that he was drowned in that lake.

There seemed to be every indication that Heidi Anfinson loved her child. Now, she was accused of purposely drowning him. What could have happened? Was there some medical explanation? Some post-partum depression that contributed to her actions? The defense would get its turn later. For now, the prosecution would move to tell the jury what really happened that day. Heidi Anfinson’s version, and then theirs.

Det. Bjornson: She stated that it was an accident.

The detective who gave Heidi the cigarette that helped crack the case interviewed her for a third time that day, after she led them to the lake.

She claimed it all started as she was giving Jacob a bath in an infant tub, in the kitchen sink, when the phone rang.

(Police tape) Heidi Anfinson: I took it out on the deck, which was asinine, because I wanted to smoke and I’d been trying not to smoke around the baby. And I had taken the sponge thing out because I just thought he’d fit in there better. And when I came back his face was turned to the side and he was blue. And I just, I freaked.

Bjornson: Was he underwater or above water when you found him?

Heidi Anfinson: His face was underwater. He had slipped down.

Police: What do you give me the approximate time from when you left Jacob until the time you came back to him and found him underwater?

Heidi Anfinson: Seven, ten minutes…

Sarcone: To leave a child for a telephone call, when you have a handheld phone, you can stay right there. But to go out and smoke cigarettes, that’s just reprehensible as far as I’m concerned.

But prosecutors then pointed out that Heidi told a different version of the story to her mother— not mentioning the cigarettes or phone call, but saying a dizzy spell caused her to leave the baby unattended.

And then, Heidi told her sister-in-law something else— that she may have just dozed off.

Sarcone: The story kept evolving and changing, and our argument was the truth never changes.

Hoda Kotb, Dateline correspondent: What happened that day?

Sarcone: There’s a million twisted reasons why someone kills someone. I think probably something happened there that maybe he was fussy and she may very well have just lost some control. If it was purely accidental, she knew how to call 911 and she didn’t do it.

In fact, the state pointed out that the week before Jacob’s death, his parents did call 911 in a panic, when the baby stopped breathing.

And the prosecutor went even further, implying that a lesion later found on Jacob’s brain led him to believe that the baby stopped breathing because maybe, just maybe, his own mother had tried to kill him that day too.

Sarcone: I think something happened happened with that child where he had a lack of oxygen.

Kotb: So you’re saying at six days, the baby suddenly somehow isn’t breathing, and then winds up dead at 15 days, all spells abuse?

Sarcone: I think you can connect those things together.

After implying Heidi was abusing her son, showing that the Anfinsons had called 911 before, and listing Heidi’s repeated lies, prosecutors then moved to the heart of their case.

Investigators testified there wasn’t  nearly enough water in the infant tub for baby Jacob to have drowned as his mother claimed. One of America’s most prominent pathologists agreed.

(court transcript) Dr. Michael Baden, pathologist: In my opinion in 40 years, I’ve never seen a baby drown in that type of device.

Dr. Michael Baden has done 20,000 autopsies. He’s been called on to help investigate the assassinations of President Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. 

He said it was clear to him that baby Jacob did not drown in the tub.

Why? An autopsy revealed microscopic plants from the lake deep in Jacob’s lungs. That meant, the doctor testified, that the baby was still breathing when his mother placed him in the lake. 

It meant, he said, that Jacob’s death was a homicide.

And to back up that theory that Jacob died in the lake, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy, Doctor Francis Garrity, then took the stand.

The medical examiner said he found evidence that the baby’s heart was still beating in the lake. The autopsy showed bacteria from the lake in the baby’s heart blood; bacteria that were not in the tap water at the Anfinson home.

But the medical examiner wasn’t done. And what he was about to reveal only added to the prosecution case for murder: It turns out that on top of Jacob’s body, police found 2 large rocks, weighing more than 25 pounds. Rocks anchored the body in the water, put there with such force, the medical examiner said, that they caused a wound on the baby’s spine.

And there was something else. The baby was also tested for drugs and alcohol. There was, the ME explained, alcohol in the baby’s bloodstream. So much alcohol, he said, that it contributed to the baby’s death.

And the ME went on to say that the baby suffered some injuries caused by wildlife and some from another source: Gashes on the baby’s head and neck, apparently made by a sharp instrument.

Dr. Francis Garrity, medical examiner: It could be a piece of broken glass, it could be a kitchen utensil – anything that has the ability to cleanly incise the skin such as I see here.

Sarcone: Those all add up to me, to clearly demonstrate malice.

Kotb: Do you think she’s that malicious?

Sarcone: There’s no question in my mind.

With that, the prosecution wrapped up its case, claiming Heidi Anfinson was an unemotional, cold-blooded killer, who slashed her baby with a sharp instrument, and told lie after lie to cover up her actions.

Now, it was up to the defense: How could it prove to the jury that Heidi was no killer?

Before Heidi Anfinson faced any judge or jury in the death of her son, she had to do something even more wrenching: She had to face her husband.

Mike Anfinson: I would just go like a cat calling for its lost kitten, you know? Just… not understand it.

But after what both describe as the toughest time of their lives, Mike Anfinson decided to stand by his wife. And so did the many friends and family members who attended the trial each day.

Mike Anfinson: We conceived a child together. We’re gonna go through the whole thing. I married her for better or worse—I guess this is the worst times.

The defense's case
To many, the Anfinson case seemed tailor-made for claims that her actions were prompted by post-partum depression, a condition caused by stress and hormonal changes that’s led some mothers to commit acts of violence toward their children.

It is a defense strategy that has had mixed results—and Anfinson’s attorney, Bill Kutmus, wanted no part of it.

Heidi Anfinson’s defense would be that her son’s death was an accident, that he died because of her negligence.

But what happened, she maintained, was not murder.

Bill Kutmus, Anfinson’s defense attorney: Heidi was incapable of performing that kind of dastardly act towards that child. We had evidence replete to indicate that she loved the child.

So the defense began by calling those who knew Heidi Anfinson not as a constantly crying defendant, but as the most popular waitress at Jimmy’s Cafe.

Friends also countered prosecution portrayals of Heidi as cold and unemotional.

Heidi’s doctor also took the stand. He talked about how excited she was about her pregnancy and how happy she was to be pregnant.

So did Jacob’s pediatrician. Both physicians testified they saw no sign of trouble between mother and child either before, or after the birth.

And even the doctor who treated Jacob the night paramedics rushed him to the hospital a week before his death, the night the prosecution implied Heidi may have tried to smother her baby—even that doctor said what he saw, wasn’t that unusual.

Heidi Anfinson: It just makes me nauseous to think that they think I was malicious.

Hoda Kotb, Dateline correspondent: Did you ever abuse Jacob?

Heidi Anfinson: No, I loved Jacob.

While the defense acknowledged Heidi’s negligence in the death of her son, her attorney argued she was neither guilty of murder, nor manslaughter— and said it would be up to the jury to decide if she deserved any punishment at all. Heidi would not take the stand in her own defense.

When Heidi and her husband sat down with 'Dateline,' they wouldn’t talk about some events surrounding Jacob’s death, but they would address the charges made by prosecutors.

Hoda Kotb: Heidi, the prosecution is saying this was no accident. That this was a deliberate act. You drove Jacob to the lake, and drowned him there. Did that happen?

Heidi Anfinson: No.

Hoda Kotb: The prosecution has it all wrong?

Heidi Anfinson: The prosecution has it wrong.

But what about the prosecution’s claims that if Heidi Anfinson truly had found her baby submerged in an infant tub, why didn’t she just call 911, as the Anfinsons had just a week before?

Heidi Anfinson: I’d better not comment on that. Because of my lawyer’s advice.

Mike Anfinson: I believe she panicked that the baby died on her watch and she probably couldn’t accept that. I believe her. I mean, she’s never done anything wrong in her life that I’ve seen.

Polk county attorney John Sarcone believes otherwise.

Kotb: Is it possible that she did just panic? Because you know, people do react different when they’re in a very stressful situations?

John Sarcone, Polk county attorney: My idea of panic is that , you know, you go berserk and you try to get a neighbor, you call a family member, you call 911 or something. You don’t take a 27 minute ride and go out to Saylorville lake and place a child in a marsh and cover him up with rocks.

But the defense argued, no matter what the prosecutor said, that panic takes many forms. And accidents do happen. 

They said the jury shouldn’t believe those experts who claimed a baby could not drown in a tub like this. And produced their own expert.

Peter J. Stephens, former pathologist for Iowa state: Drowning in bathtubs is probably one of the commonest ways in which infants drown.

And the same expert said if Jacob had not drowned in the tub, but in the lake, there would have been much more sediment and sand from the lake than was found in the baby’s lungs.

Next, the defense tried to disprove those damaging claims that Heidi Anfinson slashed her son’s head with a sharp instrument. If the baby’s head had been slashed, the defense argued, why was there no weapon found that could have made the wounds? Why was there no blood found in the car Heidi used to drive the baby to the lake and on the towel Jacob had been wrapped in… and why was the only blood found not the baby’s?

The pathologists however, did not know whose blood it was that was found.

And to back up their claim that Heidi did not slash her baby, the defense called a wildlife biologist who testified the wounds on the baby’s head could have been caused by the talons of some of the birds at Saylorville Lake — birds of prey like eagles or vultures.

The defense pressed on, despite claims by the state that there are few such birds at the lake, and that the wounds on the baby’s head were not consistent with a bird’s talons.

They called back medical examiner Francis Garrity, who’d made many of the most damaging findings about the gashes.

(Court transcript)Defense lawyer: You have conceded at one time, have you not, that several of those wounds could have been caused by the talons of an eagle.

Francis Garrity, medical examiner: By a sharp object, and that would by definition include the talons of an eagle, yes.

Defense lawyer: Well, you even said “talons of an eagle,” correct?

Garrity: Correct, I may have, yes.

And the defense wasn’t through with Dr. Garrity. Because it turns out Dr. Garrity and Dr. Michael Baden, the two top medical experts for the prosecution— the two men the state was counting on to prove its case— disagreed on many key points.

First, about the alleged presence of drinking alcohol in baby Jacob’s blood.

Garrity: The blood was positive for ethanol, drinking alcohol…

Defense lawyer: And you disagree?

Michael Baden, medical expert: Yes.

Next, the two experts disagreed on what might have caused an injury on the baby’s spinal cord. One said it was caused by Heidi Anfinson placing 25 lbs. of rocks on her son.

But the other said the injury could just have been caused by the settling of blood after death. And there was even disagreement about the bacteria one expert said proved the baby died in the lake. 

(court transcript) Bill Kutmus, defense lawyer: I would say more than three-quarters of Baden’s testimony contradicted Dr. Garrity! Both of whom are testifying for the state. A lot of it was junk science and opinions that were reaching conclusions.

But Polk county attorney John Sarcone says the seeming inconsistency isn't damaging.

Kotb: The defense will tell you, “This is just junk science. One expert says one  thing, another expert says another thing. None of it’s reliable.”

Sarcone: We don’t sit here and look for somebody who’s going to be consistent with everybody. They never disagreed about cause of death, and manner of death.

As the defense called its last witnesses and wrapped up its case, Heidi Anfinson could only wonder if she’d soon be going to prison, or going home for good.

Kotb: There was a part of you at one point that said you deserved to go to jail.

Heidi Anfinson: Yes.

Kotb: Why?

Heidi Anfinson: I think I felt like through my negligence that I did deserve some punishment.

Kotb: Do you still feel that today?

Heidi Anfinson: Now, I don’t see how incarceration would be any help. I mean I’m still going through punishment every day.

It was now for the jury to decide whether Heidi Anfinson’s self-imposed punishment for what she called the accidental death of her son was enough.

As her trial came to a close, Heidi Anfinson walked into court knowing a murder conviction meant she might never be a free woman again.

Hoda Kotb, Dateline correspondent: Were you at all trying to prepare yourself for that?

Mike Anfinson: I don’t think you can prepare yourself for that.

Heidi Anfinson: I could not conceive of the notion.

In closing arguments, defense attorney Bill Kutmus made it clear he was incensed at the tact the state had taken.

(court transcript) Bill Kutmus, defense attorney: They have publicly accused my client Heidi Anfinson with butchering her baby! With butchering this baby!

And the defense claimed if the prosecution and its experts were so certain a baby couldn’t have drowned in the infant tub, Kutmus suggested the jurors should do this:

(court transcript) Kutmus: Put your 15-day old baby in this tub with a little water in it, and ma’am and mother, I want you to turn your back and walk away for 5 minutes and don’t worry because John Sarcone and Mr. Baden said it’s impossible to drown in that tub. Would any of you do that? Of course not!

But the county attorney argued just as passionately that what Heidi did to her son in the lake was murder.

(court transcript) John Sarcone, Polk county attorney: He can’t struggle. He can’t grab her hand and say “Don’t do that, mom.” But here he is and there’s rock number one. But that isn’t heavy enough to hold him, so we go back and we get rock number two. This 18-plus pounder, and put it on him—that’s intentional, that’s deliberate. It satisfies everything we’re talking about.

Jurors had a number of options: a verdict of first-degree murder would mean life in prison with no parole, or murder in the second-degree, 50 years.

But the jury could also find Heidi guilty of manslaughter. And if they truly believed the baby’s death was an accident, involuntary manslaughter, for which the sentence could be just five years. Or they could find Heidi Anfinson not guilty and set her free.

The jury deliberates
The jury’s first vote revealed a panel deeply divided.

Sheila, juror: Involuntary manslaughter.

Doug, juror: Second-degree murder.

Patty, juror: Involuntary manslaughter.

Joann, juror: Not guilty.

Monica, juror: Involuntary manslaughter.

Most every juror was appalled by the lies Heidi Anfinson first told police, when she first said that she didn’t know where her son was. Or that her husband might have taken him.

Monica, juror: If this was an accident, and you were telling the truth, wouldn’t the story be the same from the beginning to the end?

But at least one juror could understand the lies, the fear, and the panic.

Joann, juror: I think it was an accident to begin with, and she fell apart when she found him in the sink.

Kotb: What kind of person walks away from her baby while the baby is in the bath water?

Joann, juror: It happens.

There were several mothers on the jury and they had doubts about the defense claims. And those gashes on the baby’s head.

Juror: I am thinking “I don’t think the eagle did this, but I can bring myself to think that a mother would that. Actually stab a child.”

Slowly, some votes began to change. One juror who began by voting for involuntary manslaughter soon came to a different conclusion. 

Juror: It’s possible that she was even thinking “Mike is gone. I am stuck here with this baby again. He’s fussy again. I am going to go out and take a break.” And to me, there was malice in that because you don’t leave a tiny baby in a sink.

Kotb: But do you charge someone who does that with murder?

Juror: Yes.

Day one passed, with no word from the jury. Day two: again, not a word.

Then, on day three, a call came to return to the courtroom. There was something unexpected in a note from the jury.

The note said “We feel we cannot come to a unanimous decision.”

The judge sent a note back to the jury that they should be encouraged to continue to deliberate.

The jury went back to work.

Monica, juror: I think a lot of us went home at night crying and praying and not sleeping. It was really a heavy burden.

The next day, day four, the judge again called everyone to the courtroom.

Heidi Anfinson: We thought it was just gonna be like the day before or something.

The jurors were again having trouble. The deadlock would not be broken.

A mistrial

Heidi Anfinson: I felt like a rag doll. I was numb. It was the last thing I expected.

Mike Anfinson: I thought it meant that she was free—that was reasonable doubt. I thought that it was over.

But it was not.

Only later, as Heidi Anfinson left the courthouse in tears, would it be learned the jury was deadlocked 11 to one. 11 votes were for second degree murder, 11 jurors believed Heidi killed Jacob intentionally, but that it was not pre-meditated.

Only one woman believed it was an accident, and voted for involuntary manslaughter. 

Kotb: Being the one against the 11, what was it like through your eyes?

Joann, juror: Well, let’s put it this way: we weren’t there to make friends.

Kotb: When you found out Heidi there were 11 jurors who voted guilty of second degree murder, what did you think? You came very, very close to being locked up for a long time?

Heidi Anfinson: I don’t like the word "freak out" but it frightened me.

Less than five months later, Heidi Anfinson would again be facing a jury. And in her second trial, there would be a verdict.

Faced again with the loss of her freedom, Heidi Anfinson grabbed hold of all the support she could from her friends, family, and from her most steadfast supporter— her husband Mike.

Mike Anfinson: We thought since one trial ended in a mistrial. We had some ammunition that would maybe carry us through and win this trial.

And when the second trial began, with few exceptions, it was a virtual replay of the first.

Prosecutors again claimed there was plenty of evidence Jacob Anfinson was drowned by his mother in Saylorville lake.

But the defense again countered that Heidi loved her baby and that the baby died not at the lake, but in an accident, when Heidi foolishly left him alone in an infant tub.

And after just four days of testimony and eight hours of deliberation, the jury was back with its verdict.

Murder in the second degree
The jury found Heidi Anfinson guilty of murder in the second degree.

Mike Anfinson: I mean, my son died. And now you take away my wife you know. What else do you want to take? It’s a tragedy that never ends for the rest of our lives.

Since her conviction in February 2000, Heidi Anfinson has been held at the Iowa correctional institution for women. Her sentence? 50 years. And no chance for parole, until the year 2035 when she is75 years old.

Hoda Kotb, Dateline correspondent: Heidi, Have you resigned yourself when you look around this place to say “This is where I’m going to be for the rest of my life?”

Heidi Anfinson: No!

Kotb: You’re pretty defiant…

Heidi Anfinson: Well I just can’t come to that place yet, no.

Kotb: How can you be so positive?

Heidi Anfinson: Hopefully someday, I’ll get to tell my story and people will trust and believe in me. That I didn’t maliciously kill Jacob.

Anfinson claims it was a mistake not to tell the jury her story from the witness stand. And she says it’s obvious to her now, after therapy and research, that when Jacob was killed, she was suffering from a severe case of post-partum depression— the very syndrome her former lawyer once said should have no bearing on the case.

Kotb: Heidi tell me about the symptoms that you had back then that now red-flagged you to think "I had post-partum depression"?

Heidi Anfinson: I was maybe compulsively, obsessively plucking my leg hairs. I was pulling my pubic hair out all the way until I didn’t have any left...

Kotb: Then how come back then when it all happened you didn’t say to your attorney "This is what I have, it’s probably post-partum."

Heidi Anfinson: I mean, I’m not even sure if I knew at the time.

Kotb: Because a lot of people will think, "She told a lot of lies in the beginning."

Heidi Anfinson: Yes.

Kotb: She made stuff up. "I don’t know where the baby is," "The baby’s here," or there.

Heidi Anfinson: Yes I did.

Kotb: And is this just another lie in a long line of lies. [Isn't that just] another way to get out of it?

Heidi Anfinson: I’m sure some people will think that I know something had to have happened to me. Like I said, I’m not a monster. I loved Jacob. I loved my life. I loved my husband.

Asking for a new trial
And this past summer, in a Des Moines courtroom, Heidi Anfinson was asking for a new trial, alleging that trial attorney Bill Kutmus had not competently represented her by ignoring a defense centered on post-partum psychosis.

Bill Kutmus, Heidi Anfinson's defense lawyer: That’s ludicrous. That is ludicrous!

In court, Kutmus, a lawyer more accustomed to asking questions than taking the stand himself, was clearly agitated at suggestions he had not done his job.

Kutmus said Iowa law makes an insanity defense an uphill climb, so he went in another direction. But he admitted that he never sought a mental evaluation for Heidi, nor did he obtain psychiatric reports when she was hospitalized with suicidal thoughts after Jacob’s death.

Although prosecutors presented witnesses who disagreed, one defense lawyer testified it showed a lack of competence.

And Heidi’s father, who paid Kutmus more than $100,000 dollars, said he begged the attorney to consider looking for signs of mental illness, but was told this:

Irv Hoffbauer, Heidi’s father: What I understood was that she’d have to be “insane enough to be out eating s*** out in the streets.”

Alfredo Parrish, one of Heidi Anfinson's new defense lawyers: Were those his exact words?

Hoffbauer: That’s his exact words, positively. And I was floored.

But to refute the charges, the state of Iowa called its own experts to the stand, including the doctor who examined Heidi just days after the baby’s death when she was having suicidal thoughts.

The doctors said that Heidi Anfinson did not have symptoms of sufficient severity to make that diagnosis.

Polk County Attorney John Sarcone directed the state’s efforts to keep Heidi Anfinson behind bars for the murder of her son.

John Sarcone, Polk county attorney: There’s a little boy, who was two weeks old who died in this community, in a horrible act, and his mother has been convicted of that, and we think it was proper. It should be upheld and that there should be no new trial.

But Heidi’s attorneys had the last word, begging the judge for another chance, with a new lawyer, and new evidence that might explain her actions. Her attorneys plan to appeal the decision to the Iowa state Supreme Court. 

Meanwhile, Heidi must continue to serve her 50 year prison sentence. 

It has been seven years since the death of baby Jacob. Heidi’s family and her husband, Mike Anfinson, still stand by her.

Mike Anfinson: I can see the past, I have hope for the future, but I can only grasp the present. I really don’t look much further than that anymore, you know? You just set yourself up for failure.

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