WHITE PLAINS (PIX11) – A judge sentenced Lacey Spears, convicted of poisoning her young son to death with salt, to 20 years to life in prison Wednesday.
“Ms. Spears, in many respects your crime is unfathomable in its cruelty,” the judge said. “How could a mother ever treat her child in such a callous, inhumane and calculating way?”
Prosecutors sought the maximum sentence for Spears — 25 years to life. The minimum would have been 15 years to life.
“One does not have to be a psychologist to realize that you suffer from a mental illness known as munchausen by proxy,” the judge said. The syndrome is characterized by a parent who either makes up fake symptoms or causes real symptoms to make it appear that the child is sick.
In March, White Plains jury found Lacey Spears guilty of second-degree murder after three days of deliberations in a trial that attracted national attention.
Spears, 27, was a blogger who for years wrote about her son Garnett’s ongoing health problems. Prosecutors argued that Spears laced the food she fed him through a stomach tube with high levels of salt because she craved the attention she got from his ill health. She wrote at length on her blog and social media about his mysterious ailments that included ear infections, unexplained fevers, seizures and digestive problems.
They contended that Spears ended up feeding him a fatal amount out of fear that he would tell someone it was her who was making him sick.
Spears began poisoning him while he was at Nyack Hospital last January where he was being tested for seizures, prosecutors said. Jurors watched video of Spears disappearing into a hospital bathroom with the boy, who appeared to be physically suffering when he came out.
"Anyone who saw the video . . . in the trial evidence from the hospital that showed Garnett writhing in pain, unable to vomit, may never be able to erase those images from their minds," the judge said Wednesday.
Other evidence in the case included two feeding bags investigators seized in Spears’ apartment that contained the equivalent of 69 McDonald’s salt packets in it, a forensic toxicologist said when questioned during the trial. Spears had also done online research on the effects of sodium, prosecutors said, and presented the jurors with damning posts from Spears’ accounts on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.
“The motive is bizarre, the notion is scary, but it exists … She apparently craved the attention of her family, her friends, her co-workers and most particularly the medical profession,” said Assistant District Attorney Patricia Murphy after her conviction.
Spears was living in Kentucky at the time of the trial, she moved out of their Chestnut, NY home after Garnett died.