EUREKA, Calif. – A northern California woman has been sentenced to six years in prison for the manslaughter of her infant son, who died after drinking her methamphetamine-tainted breast milk.
It was the first time a woman in California had been convicted of manslaughter for passing on a lethal dose of the drug to her child while nursing, according to the Times-Standard newspaper.
Maggie Jean Wortman, 27, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter after investigators found her five-week-old son Michael Phillip Acosta III died of "methamphetamine toxicity" in November 2010.
Prosecutors told a Eureka court she exclusively fed her baby breast milk despite knowing the dangers of exposing him to the drugs she consumed.
Wortman of Loleta, Calif., had faced up to 11 years in prison. During her sentencing Monday, defense attorneys asked for leniency, arguing their client was working on her sobriety and had suffered tremendously by losing her baby.
Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Bruce Watson said he felt prison time was warranted. "The victim, the baby, was five weeks old, and it's certainly hard to get beyond the vulnerability of such a young infant," he said.
Michael was found dead in Wortman's trailer home on Nov. 21, 2010. Wortman at first denied her drug use caused her son's death, suggesting to police that someone might have suffocated him, the Times-Standard reported.
Probation records found Wortman had used drugs while pregnant and, according to police documents, her 19-month-old daughter had also tested positive for the drug.