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Woman dubbed ‘vodka mom’ by Nancy Grace dies after setting self on fire

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 10:57 EDT
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Toni Medrano via screen cap
 
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A woman who was dubbed “vodka mom” by CNN Headline News Network host Nancy Grace has died after setting herself on fire in her mother’s Cottage Grove, MN back yard, according to Minneapolis-St. Paul Fox affiliate station KMSP. Toni Medrano accidentally smothered her newborn son last November after drinking a bottle of vodka and passing out next to the baby on the sofa.

Medrano died Saturday night of injuries sustained early on the morning of July 2, when she doused herself in a flammable liquid and set herself ablaze. The 29-year-old was “despondent and suicidal over personal issues,” Don Gorrie, a spokesman for the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s office, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

On November 22, the new mother drank a fifth of vodka as she lay next to her three-week-old son, Adrian. She passed out and rolled over on the infant in her sleep. When she woke up, the baby was dead. Medrano was charged with two counts of manslaughter last month in Washington County court.

It was shortly after the sentencing that Nancy Grace produced a segment about Medrano for her Headline News Network show, “Nancy Grace.”

“Why no ‘murder one?’” she demanded, outraged at the lighter manslaughter charges. She then cracked open a bottle of cheap vodka and started pouring drinks in an effort to show how many drinks Medrano downed the night her baby died, insisting that a mother who showed such reckless disregard for her child’s safety should be hit with a charge of first-degree murder. It was during the segment that Grace coined the term “Vodka Mom” for Medrano.

Medrano’s mother, Yvonne Hill told Fox 9 that her daughter was trying to move on when the segment aired, than in the months since the death of Adrian Medrano, Toni had been trying to “build and move on,” but when she saw the segment, “it broke her spirit in the worst way.”

A few weeks later, at 4 a.m. on July 2, after a night of drinking with friends, Toni Medrano went to her mother’s house and set herself on fire. She was not the first woman to kill herself after becoming a target of Nancy Grace.

In 2006, Melinda Duckett of St. Petersburg, Florida shot herself in the head the day before an interview with Grace was set to air. Duckett’s parents said that their daughter had been savaged by Grace in the taping and that she chose to die rather than face the tidal wave of scorn that was sure to follow the show’s broadcast.

Watch video about this story, embedded via KMSP, below:

Minneapolis News and Weather KMSP FOX 9

Watch Nancy Grace’s segment about Toni Medrano from June, embedded via YouTube, below:

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
 
 
 
 
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