A Salem woman will serve eight to 10 years in prison for withholding potentially life-saving chemotherapy medication from her severely disabled and autistic son, who died in 2009 of leukemia after his cancer relapsed.
A distraught Kristen LaBrie, 38, appeared in Lawrence Superior Court handcuffed, dressed in a grey sweatshirt, with her hair in a ponytail. She bent over and sobbed into her hands at times.
“At the of end of the day Ms. LaBrie’s actions were extended, secretive and calculated. They were acts that really do chill one’s soul. This type of conduct really does deserve punishment albeit tempered with mercy,” said Essex County Superior Court Judge Richard Welch. “She does deserve a significant sentence.”
LaBrie was also sentenced to serve five years of probation on the other convictions. She addressed the court before Welch imposed her punishment.
“I am remorseful for my actions and I wish I could have done things differently,” LaBrie said. “I certainly miss my son every day and I think about him every day. ... I’m really sorry for all this.”
A jury on Tuesday convicted LaBrie of attempted murder, child endangerment and assault and battery for withholding at least five months of at-home chemotherapy from Fraser, after the boy was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2006. He died in 2009 at age 9.
Essex County Assistant District Attorney Kate MacDougall asked LaBrie be sentenced to 15 to 17 years on the attempted murder conviction and serve another eight to 10 years on the other charges.
“The very end was awful. Whatever symptoms Jeremy suffered as a result of the chemotherapy, it pales in comparison to what he suffered in death and dying of leukemia, which is a terrible, terrible disease. At the end of the day, this was just child abuse,” MacDougall said.
LaBrie’s attorney Kevin James asked Welch to sentence her to a year in jail followed by a lengthy probation period. She described her as a caring and loving mother who was overwhelmed.
LaBrie told the jury she stopped giving him the medications because she couldn’t bear to see how sick the side effects made him.
Prosecutors portrayed her as a single mother seething with resentment because she had to care for Jeremy alone. Fraser’s father Eric cared for his son during the last year of his life. He died in a motorcycle accident in November 2009. His brother, Andrew, delivered a victim impact statement on his behalf.
Jeremy’s oncologist, Dr. Alison Friedmann of Massachusetts General Hospital, had testified the boy’s cancer went into remission after months of treatment. But in early 2008, Friedmann said, she discovered that the cancer had returned in the form of leukemia and that LaBrie had not filled at least five months of prescriptions she was supposed to give him.
LaBrie, testifying in her own defense, told the jury she stopped giving her son the medications because she “didn’t want to make him any sicker.”
“He was just not capable of getting through any more chemotherapy,” LaBrie said. “I really felt that it could out-villainize the disease — the medicine could — because he was very, very fragile.”
James said LaBrie made a “tragic mistake” in stopping her son’s at-home medication. He said her actions were not criminal.
This is a complete and utter example of why the Mass justice system is so fucked up!!! This douche bag withheld drugs that could of possibly cured her son of cancer but instead let the cancer eat through her son which I'm pretty sure should be classified as torture!! Give the kid a fighting chance at least and let fate decide no one knows what might of happened. i know we don't have the death penalty but 8 -10 years are you fucking kidding me!! this should of been life with no parole and is an example why people who don't live here call us massholes.