A New York mother accused of poisoning her son with salt so she could bask in social media attention after documenting his mysterious illness online was convicted on Monday of murder, a prosecutor said.
A jury in state court in White Plains, New York, found Lacey Spears, 27, guilty of murder in the 2014 death of 5-year-old Garnett-Paul Spears, District Attorney Janet DiFiore said in a statement. The verdict came on the third day of deliberations.
“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,” DiFiore said.
“Using the child’s ‘illnesses’ to self aggrandize herself, her actions directly lead to her son’s tortured death,” DiFiore said in the statement.
The suburban New York mother faces a maximum prison term of 25 years to life in prison when she is sentenced on April 8.
Prosecutors said the sick boy was rushed on Jan. 19, 2014, to Nyack Hospital, where he was found to have a dangerously high level of sodium in blood with no medical explanation for it. He was later airlifted to Westchester Medical Center, where he died on Jan. 23, 2014.
Evidence seized from the family home included “feeding bags containing extraordinary amounts of sodium,” the prosecutor said in the statement.
Pediatric doctors at the hospital became suspicious when his mother recalled her son’s extensive medical visits, hospitalizations and invasive surgical procedures. Suspicions were raised further when she chronicled his last days on Facebook and appeared to relish the sympathy she received from those postings, prosecutors said.
Stephen Riebling, an attorney for Spears, who lived in Chestnut Ridge, about 32 miles north of New York City, said she was innocent and blamed the hospital for negligence.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Eric Walsh)