CNN.com - Toobin: Breast milk murder trial has broader implications - Jan. 21, 2003
"(CNN) In California a mother is accused of killing her 3-month-old son, and the alleged weapon in this case was her own breast milk. Prosecutors told the Los Angeles Times that Amy Prien took methamphetamines while nursing her son Jacob. The baby later died from an overdose of the drug, and Prien was charged with second-degree murder. CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin discussed the case with CNN anchor Bill Hemmer.
BILL HEMMER: Good morning to you.
JEFFREY TOOBIN: Howdy.
HEMMER: You say significant because it's second-degree murder, not just manslaughter. Why? ..."
Tuesday, January 21, 2003 Posted: 2:04 PM EST (1904 GMT) [A brief legal analysis of the California case where a mother is charged with acting with malice to murder her child. The mother is accused of taking meth and breastfeeding. Details are in an LA Times article, below. (Registration required) - JC]
Breast Milk Cited in Meth Fatality
[Registration (free) required - JC]
By Scott Gold, Times Staff Writer,
MEAD VALLEY, Calif.
"At first, the Riverside County coroner labeled it sudden infant death syndrome ? a diagnosis used when investigators can't explain why a healthy baby dies. According to agency documents, there was no sign of injury, abuse or trauma. Jacob's body was "unremarkable" ? well developed and well nourished.
Then a month later, on Feb. 19, 2002, the coroner received a toxicology report: Jacob had overdosed on methamphetamine, a cheap, addictive stimulant.
Investigators swarmed back to the case. Jacob had weighed 13 pounds and was too young to feed himself. The level of meth in his blood was too high to have been ingested through second-hand smoke. The only way a lethal dose could have entered Jacob's system, they reasoned, was through his mother's breast milk.
Prien, now a Perris resident, has been charged with second-degree murder in a case that prosecutors say could lead to the first conviction of its kind in California. Authorities hope to bring her to trial, possibly next month; no date has been set. The 30-year-old mother of three other children faces the possibility of a life prison term.
Though Prien denies having taken methamphetamine at the time of Jacob's death and insists she had already weaned him, Riverside County Deputy Dist. Atty. Michele Levine will go to trial armed with the results of two tests that found meth in Prien's blood around the time of Jacob's death...."