Lacey Spears Convicted For Murder In Poisoning Death Of Son

Update (3/2): Lacey Spears was found guilty on second-degree murder charges Monday in the death of her son, Garnett. According to multiple Tweets, the verdict announcement did not elicit a strong reaction from Spears. The conviction on second-degree murder charges was the most serious charge available to the jury. A lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter was also on the table.

“Throughout his five years, Garnett Spears was forced to suffer through repeated hospitalizations, unneeded surgical procedures, and ultimately poisoning with salt, all at the hands of the one person who should have been his ultimate protector: his mother,” said Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore. “Using the child’s ‘illnesses’ to self aggrandize herself, her actions directly lead to her son’s tortured death. We will continue to ensure that his mother is held accountable and that justice for Garnett Spears will be served in his memory.”

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One of the prosecutor’s key pieces of evidence was a video surveillance tape showing Spears repeatedly bringing her son into a bathroom at Nyack Hospital, where her son had been admitted. The tape shows Spears bringing a feeding tube and a cup filled with an unknown substance into the bathroom, the boy exiting it visibly distraught each time. The defense argued that the evidence was not enough to convict Spears and that the Nyack Hospital caring for Garnett Spears had instead been negligent.

The White Plains jury deliberated all day Friday to decide Spears’ fate. They handed down their verdict in the afternoon on Monday. Spears’ sentencing has been set for April 8.

Update (2/27): The jury in the Lacey Spears murder trial has retired for the day without delivering a verdict. Deliberation will resume Monday.

Updates by Byron Kittle & Nicholas Gallinelli

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Original article: A jury is deliberating the fate of former Chestnut Ridge resident Lacey Spears, who has been charged with one count of murder in the second degree and one count of manslaughter in the first degree in the death of her 5-year-old son, Garnett.

Spears allegedly killed her son by force-feeding him sodium through a feeding tube in his stomach.

“She didn’t care if he lived or died,” said the prosecution’s Attorney Patricia Murphy during the closing arguments on Thursday afternoon. “Because ladies and gentlemen, this case has never been about Garnett. It has been about Lacey—the mother of the year.”

Video courtesy of CBS News

Criminal allegations were brought against Spears in April, 2014, after her son’s death was ruled a homicide. The boy had suffered from hypernatremia for almost a week when he reached a level of 182 milliequivalents per liter of sodium in his body—a level that a doctor testified to be “incompatible with life,” causing severe brain damage that eventually killed him.

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“Why did this woman continually make out her son to be sicker than what he actually was?” asked Murphy, asserting that Spears “apparently craved the attention” of family members, co-workers and medical personnel and “for some reason…liked the idea of being the mother of a sick child.”

“The only conclusion you can reach is that Nyack Hospital is negligent,” said Riebling, referencing administrational issues at the hospital. “If [Spears] was planning on killing him, why would she care about putting socks on his feet so that he could play on the floor?”Defense Attorney Stephen Riebling claimed that there was no concrete evidence tying Spears to the case, instead appointing the blame of Garnett’s death to professional inefficiency among Nyack Hospital’s staff. 

Spears—and her sister, Rebecca, who sat in the first row—started crying as Riebling told the jury about a video clip showing Spears lying next to Garnett in his hospital bed a couple of days before his death, the two of them hugging each other in their sleep. Riebling then went on to claim that the IV bags filled with remnants of salt found in Spears’ apartment by police officers could have been “tampered with” and could therefore not be viewed as legitimate evidence, a claim that the prosecutor would later denounce as “bizarre.” 

“I’m going to ask you to do justice for a 5-year-old boy who should not be dead,” Murphy told the jurors, concluding her final argument. “I’m going to ask you to do justice for Garnett.”

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