A New York mother accused of poisoning her 5-year-old with salt to gain attention and sympathy was a no-show Wednesday at a pretrial conference where her defense was given an additional month for evidence discovery in the case.
Defense attorneys told the judge that Lacey Spears wanted to attend court, but she wasn't "produced." When the judge gave them the opportunity to get her, they waived her appearance, said "Nancy Grace" producer Alexis Weed, who was inside the Westchester County courtroom.
Investigators say Spears made online searches for the symptoms of a salt overdose before her son, Garnett, died this year. Those symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, seizures, coma and even death, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
"It's very, very painful," Joseph Scott Morgan, a professor of applied forensics at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, told HLN last month. "Your kidneys begin to shut down, you're not producing urine, you have constant cramping; all these other things that are coming in where the child is just in terrible, terrible, excruciating pain."
Spears, a mommy blogger, documented her son's illness, including the last days of his life, for years on social media.
In a Facebook post made on January 17, 2014, Spears said that Garnett had a seizure and had been admitted to a hospital, but that he was well enough to walk around the pediatric floor. Just 48 hours later, she asked followers to, "Please, please, send G some love. Went from really fine to really sick in minutes."
On January 22, Spears posted: "My sweet baby Garnett has been declared brain dead ... it can't even be possible. That's my baby boy. I'm not read (sic) to let him go."
"Probably when he was under her direct care, she physically witnessed this child seize in front of her," Morgan said. "Because this is a common thing that you see with hypernatremia (salt overdose). It happens that the child will begin to seize, they'll clinch up, and it'll probably begin to pass after a period of time."
The symptoms of a salt overdose can begin to turn around in 48 hours if it's caught and fluids are administered, according to Morgan. He said that Garnett was probably hooked up to an IV after he arrived at the hospital and that he most likely had an uptick in his condition. If, however, Spears then starting giving her son salt through his feeding tube while no medical professionals were looking -- as police have alleged -- then his condition would have quickly deteriorated, Morgan said.
Since the judge granted additional discovery time to the defense attorneys, they did not disclose whether they will produce evidence of Spears' mental state.
Spears, who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, is scheduled to be in court again on October 13.
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