Kristen LaBrie, the Salem, Mass., mom found guilty of attempted murder for withholding chemotherapy medications from her autistic son, was sentenced to eight-to-10 years in prison today.
Prosecutors in the case argued that LaBrie committed murder by withholding potentially lifesaving medications for her 9-year-old son, Jeremy Fraser. The defense admitted that LaBrie knowingly withheld her son's medications, but said she did so only because of their painful side effects.
"I am remorseful for my actions. I wish I could have done things differently," LaBrie said, while sobbbing, the Associated press reported. "I certainly miss my son every day. I'm really sorry for all of this."
Prosecutors asked for a harsher jail term of 16 years. LaBrie's lawyer hoped for a one-year sentence.
Superior court Judge Richard Welch expressed sympathy for the "tremendous pressures" LaBrie faced raising a disabled child as a single mom, but said withholding the boy's treatment was "an extended, secretive and calculated act that chills the soul," the Associated Press reported.
During opening statements last week, Assistant District Attorney Kate MacDougall alleged that LaBrie, 37, knew how important it was for her son to take the prescribed medications.
"Not to have done so would have been like pushing him in front of a car," MacDougall told jurors during her opening statement. Still, MacDougall said, LaBrie allegedly told others that she did not give her son the necessary medications while falsely telling others she did.
Her attorney, Kevin James, said that LaBrie was a single mother with "severe financial problems" who bore the burden of taking care of her son. As a young child, Jeremy Fraser had been diagnosed with autism.
James said LaBrie's mental state led her to initially lie about giving Jeremy his medications.
"She made a decision in her mind to stop the medication. The decision was not made consciously," James told the court in his opening statement.
In October 2006, 9-year-old Jeremy was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, but doctors gave him an 85 percent to 90 percent chance of recovery, MacDougall said during the arraignment in 2009. Large doses of chemotherapy were given to the boy in the hospital, and his cancer went into remission.
His mother was given prescriptions for medications he was to be given at home. During the arraignment, MacDougall said LaBrie repeatedly failed to pick up prescriptions but led doctors to believe she was getting them filled, even asking at one point for a liquid version of the medication because her son was having difficulty swallowing pills.
"Miss LaBrie never expressed any misgivings about the treatment," MacDougall said.
In February 2008, after one of Jeremy's doctors called LaBrie's pharmacy and learned she had not been filling prescriptions, LaBrie said the pharmacy must have made a mistake, MacDougall said.
It was at that point that doctors learned the boy's cancer had returned as leukemia and was no longer treatable with chemotherapy, she said. The boy died in 2009.
"She is a victim. She is the mother who took care of her child," James said.
LaBrie, 37, had earlier been charged with child endangerment. A grand jury returned the more serious indictment Friday.
The alleged withholding of medication took place while the boy was mostly in LaBrie's care, authorities said.