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Grand Forks mom sentenced for neglect after child found outdoors in subzero weather

A Grand Forks mother whose 2-year-old was found outside without a coat in 15-below weather must serve 2½ months in custody.

Jackie Vondal, 35, intends to spend at least part of that time undergoing chemical-dependency treatment in Belcourt, N.D., said her attorney, public defender Daniel Borgen.

Vondal was arrested in December after police said they found her passed out on her bed while her son was outside wearing only shorts, boots and a long-sleeve shirt, unable to get back inside his family's Grand Forks home. The boy was not injured, police said.

Citing a report Wednesday, Judge Sonja Clapp of state District Court said that at the time of the incident, Vondal smelled of alcohol.

Vondal earlier pleaded not guilty to child neglect but changed her plea to guilty, striking a deal with the prosecution. The judge said she was accepting the plea agreement "somewhat reluctantly."

"What concerned me a bit was your trying to minimize what happened here," the judge said.

"The offense itself did have significant potential for harm to your child."

If Vondal completes the treatment program before fulfilling her sentence, she would serve the balance in jail, on work release or on electronic home monitoring.

Vondal told the judge she is taking parenting classes through Northeast Human Services.

She received credit for almost a month served in jail. Once released, Vondal must serve two years of supervised probation.

A charge of bail jumping for failing to appear for an earlier court date was dropped.