, Salem, MA

Local News

November 2, 2013

Hearing set on new trial for mom

Guilty of attempted murder in son's cancer death


LaBrie’s new attorney, Michelle Menken, said original defense attorney Kevin James should have introduced Department of Social Services and other records concerning an incident in which Jeremy was removed from her custody when he was a toddler, to convince jurors that the reason LaBrie lied was her fear that he would be taken from her again.

James had concluded that such evidence could be prejudicial to LaBrie and harm her case.

Menken also argues that James failed to have his own pediatric oncologist testify at trial about how some parents become overwhelmed by the burden of caring for a sick child.

But prosecutors contend that the doctor — who had reached similar medical conclusions about the effects of withholding chemotherapy — would not have been permitted to testify about LaBrie’s state of mind, given that she was not his patient.

As for an error by James in providing more materials from his own psychiatric expert to the prosecution’s expert, prosecutors say that was a harmless error that would not have affected the prosecution expert’s conclusions.

LaBrie’s attorney also takes issue with Welch’s instructions to the jury.

During the pretrial proceedings, LaBrie and her lawyer never raised a possible defense — and, in fact, were late in disclosing their intention to offer a “diminished capacity” argument. During trial, James argued to the jury that LaBrie was emotionally unable to comply with the doctor’s orders to give Jeremy his medication, and so overcome by depression she didn’t really comprehend the effects of what she was doing.

In her own testimony, however, LaBrie told jurors that she simply couldn’t bring herself to give her son the medications because they made him feel sick, a conscious choice at odds with what her lawyer and a psychologist for the defense suggested.

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