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.------




Statistics

20 Cases (USA 19 + Japan 1)



Chart 1: Proven Murder Cases

(The act of murder is factual)


Defendant

Relationship to Murderer

~~~~


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


(GBA = Guilt by Association)

~~~

Factors: (How the conviction was engineered)



Freed/Exonerated 


Tabitha Pollack (W)

(IL)

Sentence 36 years


Convicted: 1996

Freed: 2002

live-in boyfriend



Reasons

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)

(NY)

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)


boyfriend


Reasons


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.


Factors:

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

Julie Rea (W)

(IL)


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)

~~~~~


Reasons


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.


Factors


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)

(AZ)

On Death Row

~~~~

Crime Dec 3, 1989

Convicted 1990

Sentence: Death


Bonded: Sept, 2013

male housemate +

housemate's friend

~~~~


Motives:


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


Unfit Mother Stereotype: separated with one child. 


Factors:


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


Media hysteria 


Michelle Murphy (W)

(OK)


Crime September 12, 1994

Convicted: 1995

Not Guilty: September 14, 2014



stranger/unknown male

Motives


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


Factors:


Coerced Confession


Incarcerated


Miriam Nebot (H)

(PA)

Sentence 15 to 35 years.


Crime: 2008/May/24

Arrest: 2008/Jul/03

Convicted: 2008


husband

~~~

Marital Status: married with one child.

Reasons


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


Gave birth at age 19.



Marion Faye Cason (W)

(FL)

LWOP


Crime: 1983/Jan/2

Arrest: 2005/Jul/28

Note: 2½ years after the alleged incident

Conviction 2006/Dec/14

live in boyfriend

~~~




Motives:


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)

(OK)

Crime: October 2005

Arrest:

Conviction:

Sentence: 27 years (no parole)


Live in boyfriend




Darlene Routier (W)

(TX)

On Death Row

~~~~

2 murders


Crime 1996/Jun/6


Conviction 1997/Feb/1



stranger (hitman)

~~~

Marital status: married with 3 children.


Motives:


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


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


Factors


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)


Name

Cause of Death

~~~~


Convicting

1) Reasons

2) Factors


Freed



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

b.

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

Indiana



Arson case.


Ashley Hepburn(W)

(SC)


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. 


Incarcerated




Keiko Aoki (A)

(Japan)

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.


~~~~~~




 Motives:


GBA:

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.



 Factors:


Coerced confession. 


Concealment of evidence.


Shawnte Jones (B)

(AZ)

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

Motives:


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


Factors:

Coerced confession. 


Junk Science



Hannah Overton (W)

(TX)

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

Motives:


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

(OR)

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.

Motives:


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)

(PA)

Six Life Sentences


Death: 1994/Dec/23

Arrest: 1995/Feb/19

Conviction


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.

Motives:

Unfit Mother: unmarried with four children.


GBA: working as a dancer


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


Factors: 

Lying witness /Junk Science




Tequilla Fields (B)

(PA)

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. 

Motives:


Unfit Mother: unmarried 18 year old with two children.