A suburban New York woman convicted of poisoning her 5-year-old son with salt so that she could bask in social media attention could be sentenced to life in prison when she appears at a state court on Wednesday.
Lacey Spears, 27, who chronicled her son Garnett’s illnesses on a personal blog called “Garnett’s Journey” and other social media, was convicted by a jury in White Plains, New York, last month of second-degree murder in his 2014 death at Westchester Medical Center.
Prosecutors said Spears loaded the hospitalized boy’s feeding tube with a lethal amount of salt and kept on blogging.
Spears’ lawyer Stephen Riebling said she was innocent, blamed the hospital for negligence, and said he plans to appeal the verdict.
While awaiting sentencing, where she faces a maximum penalty of 25 years to life in prison, she was being held at Westchester County jail in Valhalla, said a spokesman for Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore.
Prosecutors blamed Spears, who lived in Chestnut Ridge, about 32 miles (51 km) north of New York City, for her son’s short and tormented life.
“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 after Spears was convicted.
“Using the child’s ‘illnesses’ to self aggrandize herself, her actions directly lead to her son’s tortured death,” the prosecutor said.
Spears told investigators that her blond, blue-eyed son, whose father was killed in a car accident, suffered from a slew of medical problems from Chrohn’s and Celiac diseases to ear abnormalities, according to court papers.
Her social media posts about his ongoing problems and hospitalizations, including photos of his final hours on life support, were introduced as evidence by the prosecution at trial.
Spears had moved with Garnett from Decatur, Alabama, to Clearwater, Florida, to Chestnut Ridge, where they lived in The Fellowship Community, a non-profit residential community focused on back-to-earth living.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Scott Malone, Bernard Orr)