When we began discussing the tragic tale of Julianne McCrery (hereinafter, the “Defendant”), we concentrated on the Massachusetts outstanding warrant issues. Now, we look at the issues surrounding the apparent homicide of her little boy.
She has been arraigned on second-degree murder charges in New Hampshire for killing her child, where it is believed the actual homicide took place before the body was dumped in Maine.
The Defendant had written a book which was published in 2008, entitled Goodnight, Sleep Tight! How to Fall Asleep and Go Back to Sleep When You Wake Up. The book features numerous tips for better sleep, including suggestions about diet, relaxation, and meditation.
“I am way more freaked out about all the little things in life, and was forced to devise a plan in which to save myself from all the self-imposed static I create in times of fear.” she wrote. When she is angry about something, she wrote, thoughts “go around and around like vicious sharks.”
In a passage about her son, the Defendant wrote that he had major ear problems for eight months, and had “tantrums like you cannot imagine.” She also explained that he did better after undergoing surgery, but “still rocks one wild tantrum after another when frustrated.”
“Three is a tough age sometimes,” she wrote, affectionately calling him “my little guy.”
In another section, the Defendant briefly recalled losing the “love of her life,” and other hard times. She wrote that, “I’m strong in my faith, but sometimes at night it is still very difficult to just halt my emotional turmoil in the midst of all of it,” she wrote.
Attorney Sam’s Take On Massachusetts Murder and Diminished Capacity
You may be wondering why there is any attention given to the Defendant’s book. You will likely find that the book is discussed quite a bit as this case progresses.
While practice is primarily in Massachusetts, I have handled a number of criminal matters in New Hampshire. Certain legal theories and procedures tend to be the same between the two, and other, states in the U.S.
The concept of diminished capacity, the so-called “insanity plea” is one of those concepts.
Now, the defense has not committed itself to a theory of its case as of yet. However, it is likely to be diminished capacity…particularly if the various statements (confessions) which the Defendant gave are not suppressed. The primary issue of such a defense is, of course, the condition of the Defendant’s mind while committing the crime.
At this point, the state has made its mission for conviction a bit difficult. It seems to be prosecuting the Defendant with the allegation that she intentionally killed her son, as opposed to some kind of negligence or manslaughter charge. On the other hand, if the final medical examiner’s report indeed lists asphyxiation (choking) on cough syrup as the cause of death…it is difficult to conceive how that might happen accidently.
Sometimes, of course, the government brings charges which give it room to “bargain down” in order to avoid a trial and still save face. In this case, they could always break down the charge to a lesser one in order to plea the matter out.
They may indeed end up wanting to do this given what could be a very strong diminished capacity defense. Let’s look at the Defendant’s past.
According to reports, as well as the book, the Defendant was, to say the least, somewhat troubled. She had issues sleeping and, according to her mother, battled substance abuse problems and depression. We also know that she has prior arrests for prostitution and possession of drugs with the intent to sell them.
Further, there is the rather odd alleged instrument of death. In over a quarter century practicing in the criminal law trenches, on both sides, I have yet to have a case where a “deadly weapon” is cough syrup. It boggles the mind to picture the Defendant willfully and intentionally killing her son with this “weapon”.
That is, unless you want to give credence to a mental picture of her being so angry that her son was still coughing that she decided to “get back at him” by force-feeding him a vat of the stuff by pouring it down his throat nonstop.
Kind of hard to picture, but then, I have seen some rather unusually odd things out there in my time.
In the meantime, of course, the stakes could not be higher. The exception to this is the stakes involved if it were you looking at such charges and you were looking at the potential end of your life as you know it.
May that never happen to you. If it does, however, you want to engage the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney at the first possible instant.
If you would like to discuss a criminal matter with me, please feel free to call me at 617-492-3000 to arrange a free initial consultation..
In the meantime, have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend. Assuming that the world does not indeed end Saturday night, I will be back and writing to you on Monday.
To view the articles upon which this blog is based, please go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/maine/articles/2011/05/19/texas_mother_charged_in_suffocation_death_of_son_6/?page=full and http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2011/05/texas_mother_wr.html