Mothers Wrongfully Charged Of Child Murder

"When a child is killed or dies in an accident, even if the father is responsible, the mother will certainly be charged with murder."   

    -----WCJN insight.------


20 Cases (USA 19 + Japan 1)

Chart 1: Proven Murder Cases

(The act of murder is factual)


Relationship to Murderer


Motives: (Why the police/prosecutors pursued these women)

(GBA = Guilt by Association)


Factors: (How the conviction was engineered)


Tabitha Pollack (W)


Sentence 36 years

Convicted: 1996

Freed: 2002

live-in boyfriend


GBA: Prosecution asserted" Tabitha should have known that her boyfriend posed a danger."

"Unfit Mother" Stereotype: unmarried with 4 children. Gave birth at age 17.

Lynn Dejac (W)


Aged 30 at time of crime

Sentence 25 years

Crime: 1993/Feb/13 (death of daughter, aged 13)

Arrest: 1993/Dec/10 

Note: 10 month hiatus.

Conviction: 1994/Apr/20

Sentence Vacated: 2007

Exonerated: 2008/Feb (DNA evidence)



GBA: Police likely knew that Dejac's boyfriend Dennis Donohue was molesting the daughter, and giving her drugs.  Instead, they charged her for the crime.

"Unfit Mother" Stereotype: separated with one child. Admitted cocaine user. Gave birth at 17.

Protect the real perpetrator: Dennis Donohue was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony. He was later convicted of another murder and sentenced to 25 years.


1) Perjury-friend implicated Lynn in exchange for leniency in his own separate criminal trial.

Julie Rea (W)


Crime: 1997/Oct

Indicted 2000/Oct.

Note: 3  years after the incident

Convicted: 2002/March.

Released on bond: 2004/July

Not Guilty: 2006/July

Note: despite a confession from the real murderer, the state of Illinois continues to assert that Julie is guilty.

stranger (hitman)



Protect the real perpetrator: (exhusband/father of the child).

"Unfit Mother" Stereotype: separated with one child under custody of the father; pursuing higher education. Gave birth at age 18.


The boys father, who many allege hired the hitman to kill Julie:

1)was a police officer

2)testified that Julie wanted an abortion early in the pregnancy-perjury.

Debra Milke (W)


On Death Row


Crime Dec 3, 1989

Convicted 1990

Sentence: Death

Bonded: Sept, 2013

male housemate +

housemate's friend



GBA: Crime was perpetrated by housemate and his friend; husband was a drug addict.

Unfit Mother Stereotype: separated with one child. 


Perjury: arresting officer lied about a non-existant confession.

Media hysteria 

Michelle Murphy (W)


Crime September 12, 1994

Convicted: 1995

Not Guilty: September 14, 2014

stranger/unknown male


Unfit Mother Stereotype: unmarried  with two children. Gave birth at age 15.


Coerced Confession


Miriam Nebot (H)


Sentence 15 to 35 years.

Crime: 2008/May/24

Arrest: 2008/Jul/03

Convicted: 2008



Marital Status: married with one child.


GBA: Her husband, the actual perpetrator, was sentenced to life.

Gave birth at age 19.

Marion Faye Cason (W)



Crime: 1983/Jan/2

Arrest: 2005/Jul/28

Note: 2½ years after the alleged incident

Conviction 2006/Dec/14

live in boyfriend



GBA: Her live in boyfriend-the actual perpetrator- plead guilty and received a lesser sentence.

"Unfit Mother" Stereotype: divorced with three children. First child born at age 17.

Raye Dawn Smith (W)


Crime: October 2005



Sentence: 27 years (no parole)

Live in boyfriend

Darlene Routier (W)


On Death Row


2 murders

Crime 1996/Jun/6

Conviction 1997/Feb/1

stranger (hitman)


Marital status: married with 3 children.


(Texan) Prosecutorial Gymnastics: "If I can win it, it means she did it."

Misogeny: despise of  a young, attractive, affluent housewife.


Testimony of investigator: she "did not deny killing her own children.

Testimony of M.E: "wounds self inflicted."

Incompetent Defense Counsel: did not play the entirety of the "silly string" video tape.

Only charged with one murder-prosecution saved the second in case of an unfavorable verdict in the first trial.

Chart 2: Disputed Murder Cases

(The act of murder is denied, the death was an accident)


Cause of Death



1) Reasons

2) Factors


Kristine Bunch (W)

b. 1973

age 21 at time of crime

Sentenced to 60 years

Parole eligibility after 30 years

Fire: 1995/Jun/30

Arrest: 1995/Jul/7

Conviction: 1996/March

Released: 2012/Aug/12

Cause of Death: Carbon monoxide poisoning. Three year old son died in a fire.

"Unfit Mother" Stereotype: Unmarried 21 year old mother living in a trailer park. Gave birth at age 18.

Nicole Harris(B)

b. 1982

age 23 at time of crime

Sentenced to 30 years

Death 1995/May/14

Arrest: 1995/May/14

Conviction:  1995

Released: 2012/Aug/18 (Federal Appeals Court 7th Circuit)

Cause of Death: accidental asphyxiation.

Prosecutorial Gymanstics: "If I can win it, she obviously did it."

Sabrina Butler


age 17 at time of death

Sentenced to death

Death: 1989/Apr/12

Arrest: 1989/Apr/13

Conviction: 1990/Mar

Exonerated: 1995/Dec/17 (Retrial MS District Court) 

Cause of Death:

kidney failure

"Unfit Mother" Stereotype: 17 year old teen mother wth 2 children.

Prosecutorial Gymanstics: "If I can win it, she obviously did it."

Eugenic Control-prevention of future births.

Joann Parks


Arson case.

Ashley Hepburn(W)


Death 2009/Oct 17

Trial begins: 2011/Feb

Convicted 2011/March

Sentenced to 45 years

Conviction vacated 2013/Dec

Cause of death: unknown

"Unfit Mother" Stereotype: 21 year old divorced mother with 2 kids. 


Keiko Aoki (A)


Life Imprisonment

Common law husband was also convicted.

Death 1995/Jul/22

Arrest 1995/Sep/10

*Convicted: 1996.


*Retrial Granted: 2012. Prosecution appealing the decision.

Cause of Death: Tracheal scalding.

Victim:11 year old daughter, died in a fire.




1) Ethnic prejudice-in a common law relationship with a Korean man.

2) daughter was said to be sexually abused.

"Unfit Mother" notion: divorced with two children; in common law marriage. Gave birth at age 18.


Coerced confession. 

Concealment of evidence.

Shawnte Jones (B)


dob 1983/12/01

sentence: 35 years to life

Death 2004/Feb 15

Trial: 2012/Nov

Note: Convicted 6½ years after the child's death.


Charge: Murder of 10 month old baby girl.

Cause of death: unknown


"Unfit Mother" notion: single mother with one child. Gave birth at age 19.


Coerced confession. 

Junk Science

Hannah Overton (W)


Life Imprisonment

Death: 2006/Oct/03

Arrest: 2006/Oct/13 

Conviction: 2007/Sep/05

Cause of Death: Salt poisoning. 


Marital status: married with  6 children


Prosecutorial gymnastics(Texas style): "If we can prove it, she must have done it."

Note: husband plead guilty and received a suspended sentence in order to avoid prison, but maintains a claim of innocence. WCJN strongly believes in the innocence of both Hannah and her husband we do not cite GBA.

Shannon Hickman(W)

Husband Dale is co-defendant


75 months

Death: 2009/Sep/26

Arrest: 2010/Jul/31

Conviction: 2011/Oct/31

Charge: Second Degree Manslaughter: not taking child to a hospital.

Their infant son was born in September, 2009, about six weeks premature. He weighed 3 pounds, 5 ounces and lived nine hours.


Religous discrimination: Defendants are members of a faith-healing group which eschews medical attention. Prosecution of other group members has resulted in suspended sentences and not guilty verdicts.

Tracey Shaw (B)


Six Life Sentences

Death: 1994/Dec/23

Arrest: 1995/Feb/19


Tracey lost four of her own children, and two godchildren in a Philadelphia house fire. She was not arrested until 8 weeks after the blaze. The evidence used at trial was taken was not taken during the early investigation, but 8 weeks later.


Unfit Mother: unmarried with four children.

GBA: working as a dancer

Need for a Scapegoat: can six children die by accident?


Lying witness /Junk Science

Tequilla Fields (B)


25 years to life

Arrested 14 years after the deaths!!

Deaths: 1990/Jul/11

Arrest: 2004/

Conviction: 2005/Oct/19

Tequilla, an 18 year old mother of two, lost two children in fire. 


Unfit Mother: unmarried 18 year old with two children.