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4 Bumps

Is this woman a murderer, or a mother? What would you have done?

LAWRENCE, Mass. – A Massachusetts woman who withheld at-home chemotherapy medications from her autistic, cancer-stricken son was convicted of attempted murder Tuesday by jurors who dismissed her claim that she thought the side effects of the treatment could kill him.

Kristen LaBrie also was found guilty of child endangerment and assault and battery for failing to give her son, Jeremy Fraser, at least five months of cancer medications after the boy was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2006. He died in 2009 at age 9.

LaBrie, 38, 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.

LaBrie, who appeared teary-eyed but resigned as the verdict was read, consoled her sobbing sister in the front row.

"Tell everybody I'm OK. It's going to be OK. I love you, too," LaBrie said.

Jeremy's oncologist, Dr. Alison Friedmann of Massachusetts General Hospital, had testified that she told LaBrie her son's cancer had a cure rate of 85 percent to 90 percent under a two-year, five-phase treatment plan that included some hospital stays, regular visits to the hospital clinic to receive chemotherapy treatments and at-home administration of several cancer medications.

Friedmann said 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 that she followed the instructions from her son's doctors for the first four phases of treatment but stopped giving her son the medications during the final phase because she "didn't want to make him any sicker."

LaBrie said she told her son's doctor two or three times that she was afraid that "he just had had it."

"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."

LaBrie's lawyer, Kevin James, told the jury LaBrie was depressed and overwhelmed by caring for her son, who was severely autistic, nonverbal and developmentally delayed. James said she made a "tragic mistake" in stopping her son's at-home medication, but said her actions were not criminal.

LaBrie and the boy's father, Eric Fraser, had a contentious relationship. LaBrie said she received very little help from him, even after their son was diagnosed with cancer.

After doctors discovered LaBrie had withheld the medications, Jeremy went to live with his father for the last year of his life. Eric Fraser was killed in a motorcycle accident seven months after his son died. Fraser's family members wept in the back row of the courtroom as the verdict was read.

LaBrie faces a maximum sentence of 20 years on the attempted murder charge, 10 years on a charge of assault and battery on a disabled person, five years on assault and battery on a child causing substantial injury and 2 1/2 years on reckless endangerment of a child.

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 11:40 AM on Apr. 12, 2011 in Parenting Debate

Answers (26)
  • seems like both.. she knew he was going to die and she didnt see the point in making it worse?

    Answer by zoejains_momma at 11:42 AM on Apr. 12, 2011

  • i am kinda torn on this one on one hand i can see it as negligence but on the other maybe she saw in her son that the suffering out weighed the treatment and it was better for him to go where he had no pain i really can't judge i have never been in this situation. I will say this so i am the type of mother that will fight to very end for my kids but if i saw that the treatment was killing them and causing them severe pain i would probably wrestle with wanting to give it to my child as well. I could only imagine what she went thru watching him suffer after every treatment that was given. this is a good question that my never have a right or wrong answer.

    Answer by amberpaiz at 11:45 AM on Apr. 12, 2011

  • This is such a sad story. I don't even want to make a judgement call here. I have no idea what she went through, or how hard it would be to have the child be special needs as well. On top of it, she did it on her own. This should be a movie. I'll bet this isn't the end of this case, she'll get an appeal or a new trial.

    Answer by Musicmom80 at 11:46 AM on Apr. 12, 2011

  • I don't understand how she could just watch her son die knowing that he could've been cured. I don't think she's a cold-hearted killer or anything, but I don't think what she did was right either.

    Answer by PhoenixsMommy10 at 11:48 AM on Apr. 12, 2011

  • why make him suffer if he will die anyway?

    Answer by JoLee12345 at 12:46 PM on Apr. 12, 2011

  • Tough call here. Sometimes the doctors forget that there is a fine line between humanity and heroics. Might they have cured him? Possibly, but at what cost? This child already has issues and we don't know if he even fully understood what was wrong with him. I think a mother knows her child best and that what she did, she felt was right. Sometimes the best proof of love is knowing when to let go. I hope I never have to make this choice.

    Answer by hootie826 at 12:58 PM on Apr. 12, 2011

  • She didn't kill him, cancer did! Anyone who has witnessed cancer up close knows the effects of the drugs. Can you even begin to imagine how hard it would be to see your child suffer through cancer, and have it come back? Can you imagine your own child being so ILL from the medications that they cannot eat? Don't judge. I think she made the choice that she thought was best. She didn't want him to suffer anymore.

    Answer by Renee3K at 1:44 PM on Apr. 12, 2011

  • I just feel sad that she has to go through all of this and is now going through a very public review on her actions. I wasn't there so I can't say how she did what she did or why, or why not. all I can say is God bless her as she goes through this trial.

    Answer by Camilletnt at 1:48 PM on Apr. 12, 2011

  • I don't think any of us can answer that question. Until you have been in this mother's shoes we have no right to judge her. She alone saw her child's suffering and it broke her heart. Dont you think she was torn apart the day he passed? Of course and she did she did what she felt was best for her child and isnt that what parenting is all about?

    Answer by SueAnd2 at 1:55 PM on Apr. 12, 2011

  • My mom survived her cancer but the affects of the chemo killed her. When she died she was 100 percent cancer free. Had she not treated the cancer her last year would have been better instead she was sick the entire time. I regret begging my mom to fight she didn't want to she told me she knew she was going to die and wanted to enjoy her final months on earth.

    I don't think the mother should be in any trouble she lost her child not sure there is anything worse than that. The medical community needs the conviction they want people to be afraid to refuse treatment so they can continue to make money.

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:09 PM on Apr. 12, 2011

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