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Defense: Testimony Backs Story Of Mom Accused Of Killing Son In New Jersey Cold Case

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Eyewitness testimony from 25 years ago and a lack of forensic evidence cast serious doubt on the murder case against a woman accused of killing her 5-year-old son in 1991, her attorney told jurors Wednesday during closing arguments of her trial.

"There is enough reasonable doubt in this case to drive a truck through,'' attorney Gerald Krovatin said.

Michelle Lodzinski, of Port St. Lucie, Florida, is charged with killing Timothy Wiltsey in May 1991. She told authorities at the time she lost track of her son at a Sayreville, New Jersey, carnival, then she changed her story to say the boy was abducted by one woman and two men.

"After I paid for a soda, I turned around and he was gone," the mother said in an interview.

Despite suspicions about her story, Lodzinski wasn't charged until 2014, a few years after prosecutors reopened the case after finding witnesses who identified a blanket found near Timothy's remains as coming from Lodzinski's apartment.

That would contradict Lodzinski's account of taking the boy to the carnival, prosecutors have contended.

Krovatin told jurors Wednesday that no forensic evidence on the blanket such as hairs or fibers could be traced to Lodzinski or Timothy. He cited the testimony of three carnival workers who told authorities at the time that they saw a boy who looked like Timothy.

Lodzinski was a 23-year-old single mother struggling to make ends meet when her son disappeared. Krovatin disputed implications that she considered her son a burden and noted that she had purchased summer clothes for him in the days before he disappeared.

"She was a loving, devoted mother to this little boy,'' he told the jury. "She didn't wake up one day and out of the clear blue sky say, 'I'm going to murder my son.'''

Prosecutors were to give their closing arguments Wednesday afternoon.

"Michelle Lodzinski acted wholly inconsistent with how a mother who lost her child would act," prosecutor Christie Bevacqua said.

In addition to the witnesses who identified the blanket, prosecutors presented witnesses during the trial who said they saw Lodzinski at the carnival but not her son.

Timothy's remains were found nearly a year later in a marshy area a few miles away at an Edison industrial complex where Lodzinski once worked. His skull was found in a creek in Raritan Center. A cause of death couldn't be established because of the body's deterioration.

Prosecutors said the boy was never at the cardinal and his mother killed him elswhere and left the body with a blanket and a teenage mutant ninja turtle balloon, CBS2's Meg Baker reported.

Lodzinski's trial began in mid-March. She has been held on $2 million bail in New Jersey since her arrest in the summer of 2014.

Lodzinski has run into other legal troubles over the years since her son died.

She surfaced in Michigan in January 1994 and said two men claiming to be FBI agents had abducted her at gunpoint outside her apartment building, forced her into a black SUV and drove her to Detroit, where they let her out.

She pleaded guilty in 1995 to making false statements to the FBI and fraudulently using the agency's seal. She was sentenced to probation.

In 1997, Lodzinski was charged with stealing a computer from her former employer. She pleaded guilty to a theft charge in 1998. A federal judge sentenced her to house arrest after she admitted she committed a crime while on probation.

The jury will start deliberations on Thursday.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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