A judge in America sentenced a woman to 20 years in prison yesterday for killing her six-week-old daughter with what prosecutors say was an overdose of morphine delivered through her breast milk.
Stephanie Greene, 39, of said nothing as the minimum sentence was handed down. A jury in Spartanburg, in the state of South Carolina, found the former nurse guilty of homicide by child abuse the day before and she could have faced up to life behind bars.
Her lawyer said she would appeal and it's likely the case will be tied up for years to come. Both the prosecutor and Greene's lawyer agree no mother has ever been prosecuted in the United States for killing her child through a substance transmitted in breast milk.
Greene's daughter Alexis was born healthy in 2010, but was found dead in her parents' bed just 46 days later. An autopsy found a level of morphine in the baby's body that a pathologist testified could have been lethal for an adult. With no needle marks on the child's body, authorities decided the drugs must have got into the infant through her mother's milk, prosecutor Barry Barnette said.
A review of her medical records showed Greene carefully hid her pregnancy from her primary doctor. After a home pregnancy test showed she was pregnant, she told her primary doctor she needed to go to a gynaecologist for birth control. She then got prenatal care from that doctor while not telling her all the painkillers she was taking.
She also skipped appointments with her primary physician and sent her husband to pick up her painkiller prescriptions, Barnette said.