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Published: Saturday, 11/5/2005

Father withdraws plea of insanity in tot's death

OTTAWA, Ohio - A man who told authorities he drowned his 13-month-old son in a bathtub has dropped his original plea of innocent by reason of insanity.

Michael Luebrecht, 36, of Fort Jennings, Ohio, pleaded innocent Thursday during a hearing in Putnam County Common Pleas Court.

Mr. Luebrecht has been charged with aggravated murder in the death of his son, Joel, on May 23. Mr. Luebrecht told a 911 operator that he drowned his son.

Mr. Luebrecht's attorney, William Kluge, said his client's mental health will continue to be a key part of his defense, but it is difficult to prove insanity in court.

Mr. Luebrecht met with two mental health professionals before his attorneys recommended he change his plea, which he first entered in June.

Sheriff's deputies said Mr. Luebrecht picked up Joel from a baby-sitter and took the child home to a bathroom. A volunteer firefighter who lives across the street found the boy, still in his clothes, on a bed. The child was pronounced dead at St. Rita's Medical Center, Lima, Ohio.

Prosecutor Gary Lammers has said he will seek the death penalty. Trial is scheduled for February.

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