A US woman charged with attempted murder for withholding cancer treatment from her autistic son testified Friday that she did not give him at least five months of chemotherapy medications because the side effects made him so sick she was afraid the treatments would kill him.
Kristen LaBrie, testifying for the second day at her attempted murder trial, said she mostly followed doctor’s orders during the first four phases of treatment for her son, Jeremy Fraser. But she said she stopped giving him his cancer medications during the final phase of his treatment because she “didn’t want to make him any sicker”.
LaBrie said she told her son’s doctor two or three times that she was afraid “that he just had had it”. “He was just not capable of getting through any more chemotherapy,” LaBrie said. “I really felt that it could out-villainise the disease – the medicine could – because he was very, very fragile.” LaBrie, 38, of Salem, is charged with attempted murder, child endangerment and assault and battery. Her son died at age 9 in 2009.
The defence rested its case after LaBrie’s testimony Friday. Prosecutors also rested after calling one rebuttal witness, a psychiatrist who said he did not believe LaBrie was suffering from a mental impairment when she made the decision to withhold the medication. The jury is expected to begin deliberating the case Monday after closing arguments and instructions from the judge.
LaBrie’s son was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2006. The boy’s oncologist testified that she told LaBrie that the cancer had a cure rate of 85 per cent to 90 per cent under an intensive, two-year treatment plan.
The boy required periodic hospitalisations and frequent visits to a hospital clinic, where he received chemotherapy treatments. LaBrie was instructed to give him two to three cancer medications at home.
After months of treatment, the boy’s cancer went into remission. But in February 2008, doctors discovered the cancer had returned in the form of leukaemia and that LaBrie had not filled at least five months’ worth of prescriptions for her son’s cancer drugs. LaBrie remained composed through most of her testimony, showing emotion only once, when her lawyer asked her why did not give her son the drugs.
“He was very, very sick and I was afraid, and I did not want to make him any sicker,” she said, her voice quivering. “I was afraid that if he got any sicker than he was, then he would die,” she said.
Prosecutors have painted a picture of a woman who “seethed with resentment” over the small role the boy’s father, Eric Fraser, had played in his life after the couple split up when the boy was 3. Jeremy had severe autism, allergies and other health issues. LaBrie said she largely took care of him by herself.