Mom Guilty of Killing 5-Year-Old Son With Salt

Lacey Spears blogged extensively about son's health woes
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 2, 2015 12:47 PM CST
Mom Blogger Convicted in Son's Salt-Poisoning Death
Defendant Lacey Spears brushes her hair back during the opening statements portion of her murder trial at the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains, NY, in this Feb. 3, 2015 file photo.   (Joe Larese)

A woman who blogged for years about her son's constant health woes was convicted today of poisoning him to death by force-feeding heavy concentrations of sodium through his stomach tube. A jury in the New York suburb of White Plains found Lacey Spears, 27, guilty of second-degree murder in the death last year of 5-year-old Garnett-Paul Spears. The defense portrayed Spears as a caring mother and her son as sickly, but the prosecution argued that Spears reveled in the attention Garnett's illness brought her. Video showed Spears twice taking the boy into a hospital bathroom with a connector tube and the boy suffering afterward. "The motive is bizarre, the motive is scary, but it exists," Assistant DA Patricia Murphy said in closing arguments. "She apparently craved the attention of her family, her friends, her co-workers, and most particularly the medical profession."

Spears' actions were "nothing short of torture," she said. But defense lawyer Stephen Riebling said there was no "direct evidence" of a crime and drew out from witnesses that Spears seemed devastated by her son's death. He said the hospital video eliminated tender scenes between mother and son, including one where Spears puts two pairs of socks on Garnett. "If she's planning on killing him, why does she care whether his feet are cold?" he asked the jury. He also said the hospital was negligent and dehydrated the boy—an assertion Murphy called "just ridiculous." Evidence included two feeding bags found in Spears' apartment that were heavily tainted with salt, including one that Spears asked a friend to hide. There was no mention at the trial of a disorder known as Munchausen by proxy in which caretakers secretly harm children to win sympathy. Some experts believe that disorder fits Spears' actions. (More Garnett Spears stories.)

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