Lacey Spears, the Kentucky woman who authorities say force-fed her 5-year-old son salt through a stomach tube and reveled in the attention that a sickly child brought her, has been found guilty of murder in the child's 2014 death at a Westchester hospital.
A White Plains jury handed down the second-degree murder verdict in 5-year-old Garnett-Paul Spears' death Monday after three days of deliberations.
Spears, 27, had blogged for years about her son's constant health woes, and prosecutors said she killed the boy because she feared he would start telling people she was the one making him sick.
Video showed Spears twice taking the boy into a hospital bathroom with a connector tube and the boy suffering afterward.
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
"The motive is bizarre, the notion is scary, but it exists ... She apparently craved the attention of her family, her friends, her co-workers and most particularly the medical profession," Assistant District Attorney Patricia Murphy said in closing arguments Thursday.
Murphy called Spears' actions "nothing short of torture."
Spears, who was living with her son in Chestnut Ridge at the time of his death, induced brain swelling by feeding Garnett heavy concentrations of sodium through a stomach tube, authorities had said.
Several doctors testified that there was no medical explanation for the spike in Garnett's sodium levels that led to his death.
But defense lawyer Stephen Riebling said there was no "direct evidence" of a crime and drew out from witnesses that Spears seemed devastated by her son's death. He said the hospital video was edited to eliminate tender scenes between mother and son, including one where Spears puts two pairs of socks on Garnett.
"If she's planning on killing him, why does she care whether his feet are cold?" he asked the jury.
He also said the hospital was negligent and dehydrated the boy — an assertion Murphy called "just ridiculous."
The evidence included two feeding bags found in Spears' apartment that were heavily tainted with salt, including one that Spears asked a friend to hide. One bag had the equivalent of 69 McDonald's salt packets in it, a forensic toxicologist testified.
Also in evidence were many of Spears' postings on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and a blog and her online research into the dangers of sodium in children.
Spears moved to Kentucky after her son died and was living there when she was arrested.
-Marc Santia contributed to this report