Lacey Spears and her son, Garnett, whose courage she praised on her blog.For years, Lacey Spears shared on her blog and on social media the heartbreaking tale of her blond-haired, blue-eyed boy’s constant battle with illness.
The 26-year-old from New York state appeared to be a doting mother, who wrote of her five-year-old son Garnett’s many trips to the hospital and his constant struggle with ill health. She praised the courage of the boy she dubbed on her blog “Garnett and Great”.
In January this year, after years of chronicling Garnett’s life online, the single mother posted on her Facebook page agonising photographs of her desperately ill son lying in a hospital bed. A short time later, the little boy fell into a coma and died from what doctors said was acute sodium poisoning.
On Tuesday, after a police investigation that took months, Ms Spears appeared in a New York court and was formally charged over Garnett’s death.
Police allege Ms Spears poisoned Garnett with sodium using a feeding tube into his stomach. She was indicted on charges of depraved murder and manslaughter.
Depraved murder is a charge often used in cases that suggest extreme recklessness rather than intentional killing. It carries the same maximum sentence, however – 25 years to life.
Authorities suspect Ms Spears may suffer from Munchhausen by Proxy, a psychiatric disorder in which a parent sickens a child to garner sympathy, according to local newspaper The Journal News, which has run a series of investigative articles on the case.
In Ms Spears’ case, the sympathy often came via social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter.
Ms Spears, who at the time of her son’s death was living in Chestnut Ridge, north of Manhattan, had brought her son to Nyack Hospital in Rockland County on January 17 and reported that he was having seizures.
Two days later, on January 19, and with no medical explanation, Garnett’s sodium levels rose to an extremely dangerous level.
Ms Spears was sharing her son’s hospital room at the time and prosecutors allege the mother administered sodium through the boy’s stomach tube.
Garnett was transferred to the Westchester Medical Centre. The Westchester district attorney said doctors there suspected Ms Spears was harming her son and called New York state children’s services, which launched an investigation.
In Tuesday’s court case, assistant district attorney Doreen Lloyd presented the government’s case, focusing on Ms Spears’ time at Nyack Hospital between January 17 and 19.
Ms Lloyd told the court that Ms Spears took Garnett into the hospital room’s private bathroom and administered the sodium into a tube in the boy’s stomach, according to The Journal News.
“This mother was intentionally feeding her son salt in toxic levels,” Ms Lloyd said.
She alleged that prosecutors knew from computer records that Ms Spears had searched the internet to research what the effects of salt would be on her son.
Spears pleaded not guilty at her arraignment on Tuesday and was held without bail at Westchester County jail. She is due back in court July 2.
A call to her lawyer, David Sachs, was not immediately returned.
Fairfax Media with AP
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