SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

July 8, 2013

LaBrie seeks new trial

Mom convicted of withholding chemo from son blames attorney

SALEM — Kristen LaBrie’s lawyer had never tried a Superior Court criminal case, nor had he ever handled a case involving a mental health defense.

Because of that lack of experience, LaBrie’s current attorney argues, LaBrie, serving an eight-to-10-year state prison term for the attempted murder of her autistic, cancer-stricken son, did not receive a fair trial.

A motion for a new trial, filed last month by Boston attorney Michelle Menken of the firm Rankin and Sultan, argues that a series of mistakes made by Danvers attorney Kevin James led to LaBrie’s 2011 conviction.

A Lawrence Superior Court jury concluded that LaBrie had intentionally failed to give her son, Jeremy Fraser, his daily chemotherapy medication, knowing that she put him at risk of suffering a relapse.

The prosecution had argued that LaBrie, divorced from Jeremy’s father, no longer wanted the burden of caring for the child.

But Menken, in a 56-page filing, argues that jurors might have come to a different conclusion if LaBrie’s attorney had handled the case differently.

“The result is a miscarriage of justice,” wrote Menken. “The jury’s inability to identify a plausible, innocent explanation for Ms. LaBrie’s course of conduct was plainly attributable to the ineffective assistance of trial counsel.”

LaBrie’s new defense lawyer, who was appointed to represent her in her appeal, argued that damaging testimony, in which LaBrie was forced to concede that she had lied to her son’s doctors and nurses, could have been countered with information about her history with the Department of Children and Families.

Those lies, in which La-Brie led Jeremy’s doctors and nurses to believe he was receiving all of his medications at home, were at the heart of the prosecution’s contention that she wanted her son to die.

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