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Hernando abuse trial begins after woman rejects second plea deal

Tai-Ling Gigliotti, 51, rejected a plea deal that could have meant no prison time. She may get 60 years if convicted.

KERI WIGINTON | Times

Tai-Ling Gigliotti, 51, rejected a plea deal that could have meant no prison time. She may get 60 years if convicted.

BROOKSVILLE — A Spring Hill woman accused of imprisoning a 17-year-old boy in a bathroom and repeatedly beating him rejected another plea deal Monday morning, minutes before her trial was to begin.

Tai-Ling Gigliotti, 51, got her wish, and a jury was finally selected late Monday. Testimony is expected to begin today. Gigliotti faces two counts of aggravated child abuse. If convicted, she could get 60 years in prison.

Monday's plea offer would have reduced one charge of aggravated child abuse to false imprisonment. Had Gigliotti accepted the agreement, a sentencing hearing would have been set for July 8, where her punishment would have ranged from no prison time to about six years.

But Gigliotti made it clear that she wanted a jury trial. "I cannot accept that offer," she said Monday morning.

The jurors are five women and one man. All but one of the jurors are parents.

"Parents are much better equipped to understand some of the things that are going to be talked about in here," said Jimmy Brown, Gigliotti's attorney.

Circuit Judge Jack Springstead said he expects the trial to last at least a week. Prosecutor Brian Trehy said the alleged victim is expected to take the witness stand today.

Trehy previously raised objections to starting the trial this week, noting that Brown had submitted a new witness list last week. The prosecutor said he would be at a disadvantage because he has had little time to interview Brown's new witnesses. But Springstead insisted on pushing forward with the trial.

Monday, Trehy said he was unable to interview any of the new witnesses. "It hasn't been done at all," Trehy said. "But I'm obviously not going to get any more time."

Gigliotti also rejected a plea deal during a pretrial hearing Thursday, bursting into tears as she appeared before Springstead. In that deal, Gigliotti could have gotten as much as eight years in prison.

On that same day, Gigliotti's former fiance, Anton Angelo, was sentenced to five years of probation in exchange for his testimony against her.

In a deposition released Friday, Angelo testified that the teenager — Gigliotti's nephew — trashed his car, burned down a cabana behind their Spring Hill home and put glass and nails in the dog food. As the boy grew older and his behavior became more troubling, Angelo said he and Gigliotti feared for their lives.

"I was physically afraid for my life," Angelo said.

Gigliotti, the widow of famed clarinetist Anthony Gigliotti, and the boy moved from the Philadelphia area to a house on Whitmarsh Street in Spring Hill in 2004.

According to investigators, the abuse quickly followed. When the teen escaped from a barricaded bathroom in the house in early February 2009 and ran to neighbors for help, he told authorities he had spent nearly 15 months imprisoned there.

Hernando abuse trial begins after woman rejects second plea deal 05/03/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 3, 2010 10:43pm]
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