Lacey Spears was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison on Wednesday after being found guilty of killing her 5-year-old son with salt poisoning.

Lacey Spears Sentenced For Murdering Son With Salt

A jury found Spears, 27, guilty of second-degree murder in March, over a year after her son, Garnett-Paul Spears, died at age 5 in Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. Garnett was in and out of hospitals his entire life, something Spears frequently spoke about on her various social media platforms and her personal blog titled “Garnett’s Journey.” It wasn’t until his final days that doctors took note of Garnett’s unnaturally high sodium levels. Two days before he died, on Jan. 20, 2014, doctors reportedly contacted Child Protective Services and police began investigating the case.

Spears was charged with second-degree murder in June of 2014, and prosecutors alleged that Spears injected sodium into her son’s feeding tube and had been giving him dangerously high levels of salt at home. Prosecutor Doreen Lloyd argued that Spears intentionally made her son ill because she wanted the attention that comes with being a doting mother of a sick child.

“Throughout his short life, Garnett Spears was forced to suffer through repeated hospitalizations, unneeded surgical procedures and ultimately poisoning with salt, all at the hands of the one person who should have been his ultimate protector: his mother. Using the child’s ‘illnesses’ to self-aggrandize herself, Lacey Spears’ actions directly lead to her son’s tortured death,” said Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore in a statement following the sentencing.

Did Spears Suffer From Munchausen By Proxy?

Judge Robert Neary sentenced Spears to 20 years to life in prison, and said in his sentencing that he believes Spears suffers from a mental illness, saying, “one does not have to be a psychiatrist to realize you suffer from Munchausen by proxy.”

Despite his belief that Spears suffers from Munchausen by proxy, an often debated mental illness in which a parent or caretaker purposefully makes their child or charge ill for the attention, Neary maintained that she was well enough to know her actions could cause her son to die.

“This was not a spontaneous or ill-conceived solitary act. It was a serious and orchestrated series of actions that really shock the conscience,” said Neary during sentencing.

Meanwhile, Spears and her lawyers maintained her innocence, and neither the defense nor the prosecution made any mention of Munchausen by proxy during the sentencing or trial. Post-sentencing, Spears’ attorneys insisted that their client had not been diagnosed with any kind of mental illness and filed an appeal.

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