Sect scofflaw nabbed on eve of cult mom murder trial

Attleboro cult mom Karen Robidoux goes on trial today for allegedly starving her son to death, and police last night arrested another sect member who was under court order to testify but was a no-show in court yesterday.

A Taunton Superior Court judge issued an arrest warrant for David Corneau, a member of The Body religious sect who led authorities in 2000 to a Mainegrave site where they found the remains of Karen Robidoux’s son, Samuel. Corneau was arrested at a gas station and was being held last night.

Corneau’s stillborn son, Jeremiah, was buried alongside Samuel, who prosecutors say died of malnutrition days before his first birthday. Corneau was never charged. He testified in last year’s trial of Robidoux’s husband, Jacques, who was convicted of first-degree murder.

Members of the fundamentalist sect shun mainstream society, live communally and give birth at home.

A jury of nine men and seven women was seated yesterday for Karen Robidoux’s trial on second-degree murder charges for Samuel’s 1999 death. Opening statements were slated for this morning in the Taunton courthouse.

Prosecutors say the couple stopped feeding the toddler solid food to comply with a bizarre religious vision the boy’s aunt, Michelle Mingo, claimed she had. Mingo faces accessory charges.

Karen Robidoux’s lawyer, Joseph Krowski, is using a battered woman defense, saying his client was coerced, intimidated and barred from saving her son.

“In the end, she was not allowed to do what needed to be done,” Krowski said. “This woman had no options.”

Prosecutor Walter Shea, however, said the evidence will show she was a key player in the tragedy.

“When a mother watches her child starve to death for 51 days and does nothing . . . I’ll leave it to the jury to decide,” Shea said.

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