Mom convicted of killing son, 5, by poisoning him with salt

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Mom convicted of killing son, 5, by poisoning him with salt
Lacey Spears, 27, was convicted of second-degree murder Monday after prosecutors argued she poisoned her 5-year-old son for attention.
Defendant Lacey Spears wipes tears from her eyes as the prosecutor addresses the court during the opening statements portion of her murder trial at the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains, N.Y., Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. She is accused of killing her 5 year old son by feeding him salt through a stomach tube. At right is one of her attorneys David. R. Sachs. (AP Photo/The Journal News, Joe Larese, Pool)
Defendant Lacey Spears, left, makes notes along with her attorney David R. Sachs, during the opening statements portion of her murder trial at the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains, N.Y., Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. Spears is accused of killing her 5-year-old son by feeding him salt through a stomach tube calmly "watched and waited" for the poisoning to take effect, summoning help only after he began writhing and retching, a prosecutor said. (AP Photo/The Journal News, Joe Larese, Pool)
Defendant Lacey Spears, left, sits next to her attorney David R. Sachs, during the opening statements portion of her murder trial at the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains, N.Y., Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. Spears is accused of killing her 5-year-old son by feeding him salt through a stomach tube calmly "watched and waited" for the poisoning to take effect, summoning help only after he began writhing and retching, a prosecutor said. (AP Photo/The Journal News, Joe Larese, Pool)
Defendant Lacey Spears looks towards her attorneys during the opening statements portion of her murder trial at the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains, N.Y. Spears is accused of killing her 5 year old son by feeding him salt through a feeding tube. At right is David. R. Sachs, one of her attorneys. (AP Photo/The Journal-News, Joe Larese, Pool)
This undated photo provided by the Westchester County District Attorney’s office shows Lacey Spears, who was indicted June 17, 2014, in White Plains, N.Y., on charges of depraved murder and manslaughter in the death of her son, 5-year-old Garnett-Paul Spears. Her trial begins Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Westchester County District Attorney)
FILE - Defendant Lacey Spears brushes her hair back during the opening statements portion of her murder trial at the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains, N.Y., in this Feb. 3, 2015 file photo. Summations are scheduled Thursday Feb. 26, 2015 in the case of Lacey Spears, who is charged with murder and manslaughter in the 2014 death of 5-year-old Garnett-Paul Spears. (AP Photo/The Journal-News, Joe Larese, File, Pool)
Lacey Spears enters the Westchester County Courthouse for a hearing on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 in White Plains, N.Y. Spears of Scottsville, Ky., has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and manslaughter in the January death of her 5-year old son, Garnett-Paul Spears. Garnett died at a New York hospital when, prosecutors say, his sodium levels rose with no medical explanation. (AP Photo/The Journal News, Ricky Flores, Pool)
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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) -- A woman who blogged for years about her son's constant health woes was convicted Monday of poisoning him to death by force-feeding heavy concentrations of sodium through his stomach tube.

A jury in the New York suburbs found Lacey Spears, of Scottsville, Kentucky, guilty of second-degree murder in the death last year of 5-year-old Garnett-Paul Spears.

The defense portrayed Spears as a caring mother and her son as sickly, but the prosecution argued that Spears reveled in the attention Garnett's illness brought her. Video showed Spears twice taking the boy into a hospital bathroom with a connector tube and the boy suffering afterward.

"The motive is bizarre, the motive is scary, but it exists," Assistant District Attorney Patricia Murphy said in closing arguments Thursday. "She apparently craved the attention of her family, her friends, her co-workers and most particularly the medical profession."

She suggested that Spears, 27, eventually killed the boy because she feared he would start telling people she was making him ill. Her actions were "nothing short of torture," she said.

Several doctors testified that there was no medical explanation for the spike in Garnett's sodium levels that led to his death.

But defense lawyer Stephen Riebling said there was no "direct evidence" of a crime and drew out from witnesses that Spears seemed devastated by her son's death. He said the hospital video was edited to eliminate tender scenes between mother and son, including one where Spears puts two pairs of socks on Garnett.

"If she's planning on killing him, why does she care whether his feet are cold?" he asked the jury.

He also said the hospital was negligent and dehydrated the boy - an assertion Murphy called "just ridiculous."

The evidence included two feeding bags found in Spears' apartment that were heavily tainted with salt, including one that Spears asked a friend to hide. One bag had the equivalent of 69 McDonald's salt packets in it, a forensic toxicologist testified.

Also in evidence were many of Spears' postings on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and a blog and her online research into the dangers of sodium in children.

Spears, an Alabama native, was living with her son in Chestnut Ridge, New York, when he died. She moved to Kentucky afterward and was living there when she was arrested.

There was no mention at the trial of a disorder known as Munchausen by proxy in which caretakers secretly harm children to win sympathy. Some experts believe that disorder fits Spears' actions.

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