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Kristen LaBrie jurors end talks; deliberations resume Tuesday

Posted by Metro Desk  April 11, 2011 05:20 PM

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Elise Amendola / Pool photo

Kristen LaBrie is pictured inside Essex Superior Court in Lawrence today after jurors left courtroom to begin deliberations.

LAWRENCE -- After deliberating for about five hours and asking the judge for clarification on two key legal issues, the jury in the Kristen LaBrie attempted murder trial went home today without reaching a verdict.

The panel of seven women and five men are due back in Essex Superior Court here tomorrow to resume their conversations about the death of Jeremy Fraser, LaBrie’s autistic son who died when he was nine years old.

LaBrie testified during trial that she refused to provide her son with cancer-fighting medications due to emotional exhaustion and her belief that the prescriptions were causing her son more harm than good.

LaBrie, now 38, faces charges of attempted murder, assault and battery on a disabled person with injury, assault and battery on a child with substantial injury, and reckless endangerment of a child.

She has pleaded not guilty.

Before retiring for the day, the panel asked Superior Court Judge Richard Welch for more details on some key legal issues on two key legal issues: Must a person always provide prescription medications and is choosing not to provide medicine an “overt action’’ that justifies conviction for attempted murder?

Over the objection of defense attorney Kevin James, Welch told jurors that the legal guardian of a child must provide prescription medications to that child if it would protect the child from harm.

James had urged Welch to tell the panel only that the obligation was dependent upon certain conditions.

Welch also told jurors that they have to conclude on their own whether prosecutors have convinced them that LaBrie’s decision not to provide medication legally qualifies as an “overt action’’ under the state’s attempted murder law.

He told them prosecutors contend LaBrie’s admitted failures qualify as an “overt action,'' but stressed the ultimate decision will be made by them.

In closing arguments today, Essex Assistant District Attorney Kate MacDougall urged jurors to convict Labrie. She argued the cancer in LaBrie’s son was on the run until his mother did not give him the care he needed.

Fraser relapsed, and he died less than three years after his diagnosis. He was 9.

“He was a little boy, he was her little boy, and he had an opportunity for a miracle…and she took that from him, she stole that from him,” MacDougall told jurors. “That was not a tragic mistake, that was not an accident. That was in every sense of the word criminal.”

But James, LaBrie’s lawyer, argued that the single mother withheld the chemotherapy medications because she could no longer bear the pain they were causing her son.

He added that she was a depressed woman who was overwhelmed by caring for Jeremy, who was also autistic.

James said his client made a mistake, but that it was not a criminal act, arguing she never had the malice or willful intent to cause harm to her child.

“Ms. LaBrie was unable to put chemotherapy medication into her son’s body,” he said.

“Her coping and ability to do what she had to do started to wane. The commonwealth wants to take this tragic set of circumstances and turn it into a criminal prosecution.”

Originally published on the blog MetroDesk.

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