A New York suburban woman who wrote a “motherhood” blog, killed her five-year-old son by poisoning him with salt. Her intent was to look like the poor, overwhelmed mother of an already sickly young son who passed away. It is thought that she did this so she could attain more social media attention for her blog and other social media sites.
27-year-old, Lacey Spears kept track of her son, Garnett’s illnesses in her journalism blog, called, “Garnett’s Journey.” On Wednesday, in White Plains, New York, Spears was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. A jury convicted her last month with second-degree murder. Spears’ son died at Westchester medical Center in suburban New York, the hospital he was transferred to before he died in 2014. Spears went back to her home state of Kentucky after Garnett died. She was arrested there and brought back to New York for trial.
According to New York prosecutors, Spears filled Garnett’s feeding tube with a lethal dose of salt while he was in the hospital. Then Spears returned to her blogging. Prosecutors are also blaming Spears for her son’s tortured life. They said Garnett had needlessly and repeatedly been hospitalized. He has had multiple surgeries that he did not need and then finally, Spears poisoned him with salt. This was Garnett Spears’ short life story.
The prosecutor continued, saying Spears used her son’s condition to glorify herself as the good, attentive mom and gain attention. It was Spears need for attention that led to her son’s death. Spears was given 20 years to life instead of the maximum 25 years to life. Spears will not acknowledge the accusation, but the judge believes, Spears is mentally ill. Acting, New York, Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary said it is obvious that she suffers from Munchausen by proxy, so he chose to show her mercy. Something she did not give her son, Garnett.
Munchausen by proxy is known as a “clinically factitious disorder imposed on another.” Spears was harming her son secretly and on purpose because it gave her the attention and sympathy she needed.
The jury was shown a video of Garnett in extreme pain, in his hospital bed, after his mother had poured the salt into his feeding tube. The overdose of salt caused his brain to swell and he had seizures before he died. The jury was not sympathetic when the defense team requested Spears get the minimum sentence of 15 years to life.
The judge is hoping to bring the illness, Munchausen by proxy, to light and encourage it to be publicly reported. The New York attorneys disregarded Munchausen by proxy, as a defense. Both sides agreed not to mention it in trial. The defense attorney was surprised the judge brought it up, as Spears has not been diagnosed with any mental illnesses. Spears refused to address the judge when he encouraged her to get help for her illness and Spears did not show any emotion when she was sentenced. Spears also did not testify at her own trial.
Stephen Riebling, one of Spears’ defense attorneys said that Spears is innocent. He said that the hospital’s negligence is responsible for the young boy’s death and he will be appealing the guilty verdict.
Spears had told investigators in New York, that her son had many medical conditions. He had Crohn’s and Celiac disease as well as ear abnormalities. His father had been killed in a car accident, so Spears deals with Garnett’s illnesses the best that she can.
Spears uses social media, heavily, to post about her son’s illnesses and hospitalizations. She posted photographs of his last few hours on life support. Besides her blog, Spears posted on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. These were used as evidence at Spears’ two week long trial. The prosecutor said that “the motive was bizarre” and scary, but it does exist. She needed the attention.
In a Facebook post Spears said Garnett had been hospitalized 23 times his first year. Spears had also done research about the dangers of sodium in children on her computer, showing her intent toward her son.
Spears had moved Garnett to Chestnut Ridge, New York to live in ‘The Fellowship Community’. This is a non-profit community that is achieving the goal of back-to-earth living.
Garnett died in January 23, 2014 after being moved to different New York hospital. Spears was convicted March 2 and sentenced Wednesday. Her lawyers have already filed an appeal.
By Jeanette Smith