Mother of Madalina Cojocari refuses to show up for arraignment

CHARLOTTE — The mother of missing Cornelius girl Madalina Cojocari refused to show up for her hearing scheduled on Friday.

“With no action being taken, nothing will occur on this matter today,” the judge said.

He said her hearing would be continued at a later date, which has not yet been scheduled.

It’s been more than a year since Madalina disappeared. Diana Cojocari has spent the last 14 months behind bars, charged with failure to report her missing child. Channel 9 learned she could walk free after her arraignment.

Diana Cojocari was scheduled to be arraigned Friday, meaning the charge against her was supposed to be read and she would have been asked how she pleaded. But according to the judge in the courtroom, she chose not to attend the arraignment.

“We can’t force her to be here, so this is the outcome for the day,” the judge said.

Channel 9′s Hannah Goetz asked local high-profile defense attorney George Laughrun what his thoughts were on why Cojocari didn’t go to court, especially because she could have gotten out of jail.

“I wonder, yeah, number one, is she afraid of her husband? That’s why at least, there in jail, she’s protected,” he said.

Madalina, who disappeared at age 11 in November 2022, has yet to be found. Early on in this investigation, Channel 9 reported that when detectives asked Diana why she did not report her daughter missing, they say she told them she was worried it might start a “conflict” between her and her husband, Christopher Palmiter.

After that same hearing, Madalina’s grandmother said she believed Madalina has been trafficked.

Laughrun said there are two other reasons why he would think Cojocari didn’t show up Friday.

“Does she have a place to go? Is she afraid of the backlash from the public, the media?” he asked.

‘It’s a Lifetime movie’

Channel 9’s Hunter Sáenz also spoke with Laughrun on Thursday. He said it’d be smart for her to plead guilty to the crime knowing she’s served nearly the maximum amount of jail time already. That could mean she’d walk out of jail.

“It’s a Lifetime movie,” Laughrun said. “You couldn’t make up these facts.”

The longtime criminal defense attorney said a guilty plea could actually fall in her favor.


“It’s great legal work if she wants to get out and go home or say ‘I want to put Charlotte in my rear view,’” he said.

Under the state’s structured sentencing guidelines, Laughrun said the judge would have to sentence Cojocari to probation because of the low-level felony and her lack of a criminal history.

Cojocari, who was arrested on Dec. 17, 2022, has 14 months of time served. So if the judge sentences her to anything less than that amount of time, Cojocari could say she wants to withdraw her consent to probation, activating the suspended sentence and thus using her time served. That could mean she gets out of jail with no restrictions.

“There’d be nothing keeping her here,” Laughrun said.

“And that’s what you’d place your poker chips on?” Sáenz asked.

“I’d push it all into the middle of the table,” Laughrun said.

There are technically other scenarios that could put her on electronic monitoring or in jail for another few months, but Laughrun says those seem unlikely. Those are:

  • Cojocari could choose to take probation and then could be placed on electronic monitoring, confined to the area.
  • Or, if the judge finds aggravating factors and goes with the maximum 19-month penalty, she could be told to finish a couple more months behind bars, after which she’d be free.

It’s unclear where she would go if she gets out of jail without restrictions, but we do know she shared a home with her husband in Cornelius. He’s also charged and is currently living there while out on bond.

We also know Cojocari is from Moldova and has family there. Without probation restrictions, she could very well fly back.

(WATCH BELOW: Community prays for Madalina Cojocari one year after she vanished)

Hannah Goetz

Hannah Goetz, wsoctv.com

Hannah is a reporter for WSOC-TV.

Hunter Sáenz

Hunter Sáenz, wsoctv.com

Hunter is a reporter for Channel 9.