Breast Milk Meth Death Mom may be Retried
Posted by Childress on August 15, 2006
Prosecutors will try a third time to successfully convict Amy Leanne Prien of murder in the death of her 3-month-old son Jacob Smith.
Prien’s first conviction was overturned; her second trial ended in a mistrial. The Riverside (CA) Press-Enterprise reports:
“It was abundantly clear to the court that the cause of death of the victim was due to methamphetamine intoxication,” Judge Patrick Magers said.
The judge stressed that his ruling was based on the evidence presented during Amy Leanne Prien’s 2006 retrial, which ended in a mistrial because the jury was deadlocked. A key issue for that jury was how 3-month-old Jacob Smith could have ingested the drug.
Prien, 34, was convicted in 2003 of murder for the January 2002 death of her son. A state appeals court overturned the murder conviction in 2005, but it allowed prosecutors to retry her.
After the judge rejected the defense request to dismiss the murder charge, Supervising District Attorney Allison Nelson and defense lawyer Stephen Yagman said they were ready to proceed to a third trial.
After the hearing, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Ingrid Wyatt said a decision on whether Prien will be tried a third time has not been made by her office. She said the scheduled hearing is the next step in the legal process.
The deadline for Prien’s third trial to start is Monday.
All this legal wrangling occured because of one simple investigative mistake: Police siezed Prien’s blood — which tested way positive for meth — but did not test her breast milk. Her lawyers have used that error to keep her free of murder charges. If Jacob found the meth and took it himself — this is a 3-month old, remember! — it’s not murder.
But thankfully, she is not free. She’s serving a 10-year sentence for child endangerment, a conviction the defense couldn’t overcome.