Friday, July 3, 2009

Münchausen mother convicted of murder

On June 19, a St. Louis circuit court jury convicted Judy Pickens of second-degree murder and five other felony counts in the poisoning of her children, underscoring that Münchausen by Proxy is, at least for now, not a viable legal defense.

The case began when Pickens' three-year-old son Mikal died in October 2004. Her lawyer sent a letter threatening to sue St. Louis Children's Hospital for his death. Ironically, Pickens' daughter Kheematah was in the hospital days after the letter was received.
Hospital workers were suspicious and an aide was assigned to the room. One staff member reported seeing Pickens putting a substance in her daughter's drink. Another reporter seeing her tamper with her intravenous tube and throw an empty syringe in the trash.
Pickens was ultimately charged with crushing her blood pressure pills and feeding them to her son and trying to poison her daughter.
A psychologist testified that her behavior fit the criteria for Münchausen by Proxy, a disorder in which someone deliberately makes another sick to command attention, often from doctors or other care providers.
Even though her actions may be the result of a mental disorder, Michael Armour, a forensic psychologist, testified that, "In my opinion, these are rational and deliberate behaviors." Münchausen by Proxy "would not exclude someone from taking responsibility for their actions."
See for the full story.
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