Stressing that a mother's role is to protect her children, a Lucas County common pleas judge said Carrie Weaver violated the most sacred of human bonds when she spoon-fed her young son poison to garner attention for herself.
Judge James Jensen sentenced Weaver to three years in prison yesterday after she was convicted of felony child endangering. Weaver, 28, of Toledo was found guilty by a jury of feeding her son ipecac, an over-the-counter drug that induces vomiting.
Prosecutors said the young, single mother suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a disorder in which an adult abuses a child to satisfy her own craving for attention.
"But for some very caring, competent, and medically inquisitive doctors at Perrysburg Pediatrics, you probably would be facing a charge of homicide," the judge said before ordering Weaver to prison. "Once removed from your care, this young man got better."
Weaver was convicted May 4 after a weeklong trial that focused predominantly on medical testimony. Pediatric doctors and specialists testified about the baffling symptoms that Weaver's son experienced and their inability to focus in on the problem.
That was until a doctor at a hospital in Ann Arbor recognized the signs of ipecac poisoning.
Weaver's son, now age 11, testified about his several visits to doctors and the hospital and how his mother would feed him "Coke syrup" to settle his stomach. Prosecutors noted that ipecac is a brown syrup.
Weaver's family became visibly upset, some crying, as she was sentenced yesterday. But, as in the rest of her trial, Weaver's stoic face remained unchanged.
She said only one statement prior to her sentencing: "I didn't do it."
It was a sentiment mirrored by her family. After the sentencing, her husband, Brad Spangler, said that the time imposed was "not just."
"She didn't do it," he said.
Other family members declined to comment.
Defense attorney Lorin Zaner asked that the judge consider Weaver's lack of a criminal record and the fact that she passed a polygraph test. He said that he understood that the judge was looking for Weaver to show remorse but that it was difficult to do because she would have to admit to something she didn't do.
"She lost her son. She hasn't seen her son in two years. The fact that she was convicted of something she didn't do, she had to steel herself in a way to help her get through," he said of his client's lack of reaction.
Assistant County Prosecutor Rob Miller, who along with Lori Olender tried the case, said that although Weaver was the one on trial, the case was really about her son and what is best for him.
He said the boy, who now lives with his biological father, asked the prosecutors handling the case to make sure they won so that he would not have to return to his mother's care.
"It's not about her. It's about this kid," Mr. Miller said. "He almost died and when he was taken away from her, he's now fine."
Relatives of the boy's father were in court yesterday, as was the foster mother who took care of him after he was taken from Weaver. Each declined to comment.
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