WHITE PLAINS – Jurors today returned a guilty verdict for Lacey Spears, the Chestnut Ridge mother accused of poisoning her 5-year-old son Garnett by introducing a lethal dose of salt through his feeding tube.
Following a 14-day trial at Westchester County Courthouse and two days of deliberation by a jury, Spears, 27, was convicted of second-degree murder, which carries a penalty of 15 years to life in prison. She will be sentenced on April 8.
The case garnered national media attention due in part to Spears’ small amount of public visibility prior to the trial. During her time in her native Alabama and after her subsequent move to Rockland County, Spears frequently posted updates on Facebook and a personal blog which kept followers abreast of Garnett’s health troubles.
However, after Garnett died at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla on January 24 of last year, Spears’ actions became the object of increasing suspicion. During the trial, several doctors testified that Garnett’s death was the result of a sudden spike in sodium levels which could not be explained by anything but foul play.
Police searches of Spears’ residence turned up two feeding bags containing large amounts of salt. In addition, prosecutors presented evidence that in the days before Garnett’s death, Spears had used her computer and phone to search for terms related to sodium poisoning, presumably in preparation for an act Lead Prosecutor Pat Murphy characterized as “nothing short of torture.”
Spears’ defense countered that there was no concrete evidence of poisoning, arguing the bags were not obtained during the first search of Spears’ residence and that the elevated sodium levels in Garnett’s blood could have been the product of dehydration or an undiagnosed disorder.
It is not certain at this time whether Spears and her defense attorney Stephen Riebling will choose to appeal the decision, but Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore stated that if they do so, she is “very confident” the conviction will be upheld.