The 27-year-old mother convicted of killing her 5-year-old son by poisoning him with salt was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison Wednesday by a judge who said Lacey Spears suffered from a mental illness but still committed a crime “unfathomable in its cruelty.”
Spears, of Scottsville, Kentucky, was found guilty last month of second-degree murder in the 2014 death of Garnett-Paul Spears at a Westchester County hospital.
Prosecutors had asked for the maximum sentence of 25 years to life. They said she force-fed high concentrations of sodium through the boy’s stomach tube because she craved the attention his illness brought to her, especially through her heavy posting on social media.
Spears showed no emotion when she was sentenced.
Acting state Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary said Spears’ crime brought her son “five years of torment and pain.” But he said he was not imposing the maximum 25 years to life because “one does not have to be a psychiatrist to realize you suffer from Munchausen by proxy.”
Munchausen by proxy is a disorder in which, in some cases, caretakers purposely but secretly harm children and then enjoy the attention and sympathy they receive.
Spears’ attorneys had refused to raise the disorder as a defense, and both sides agreed not to mention it at trial. After the sentencing, defense lawyer Stephen Riebling said it was odd for the judge to bring it up because Spears “hasn’t been diagnosed with any mental illness.”
Spears did not testify at her trial.
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SOURCE: NBC New York, The Associated Press