SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

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November 20, 2013

Mom seeks new trial in attempted murder of son

Attorney's defense of Labrie in question

(Continued)

Instead, James sought to bar any reference to LaBrie’s involvement with the Department of Social Services. He testified yesterday that he believed jurors would hold it against LaBrie if they learned that the department had previously investigated reports of neglect and had taken her older child out of her home permanently.

A more viable defense, Menken suggested, would be that LaBrie lied about giving Jeremy his medication because she feared that he would be removed from her custody, just as her older child had been. Department of Social Services records about that removal could have supported that belief, she said.

She also argued that James’ decision to hand over more materials from his own psychological expert than the law required — a decision James also defended yesterday — undercut LaBrie’s case.

James acknowledged that he was not familiar with a case that had been decided shortly before the LaBrie trial concerning what defense attorneys are required to turn over to prosecutors. But he said he believed he had no choice but to give prosecutors the materials.

That’s because James failed to notify prosecutors and the court of his planned mental-health defense until just before the original trial date. He testified yesterday that had he fought against turning over all the records, he feared that a judge would have barred him from using the planned defense because of the late notice.

During testimony earlier in the hearing, Dr. Paul Patel, a child cancer specialist from Florida, testified about the prevalence of noncompliance by families of children undergoing cancer treatment, noting that for some portions of the treatment, as many as 40 percent of patients miss dosages, often because of the side effects.

“It’s a huge concern for pediatric oncologists,” Patel testified.

But he acknowledged that the studies do not break down the specific reasons, nor do they delineate the age groups most likely not to comply, such as adolescents, for whom side effects like weight gain and hair loss are, in their minds, worse than the potential result of missing medications.

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