Missouri

Jurors convict Missouri mother of poisoning 9-year-old son

A Missouri mother has been convicted of repeatedly poisoning her son with prescription medications, risking his life in what authorities described as an effort to win attention and possibly inheritance payments.

St. Louis County jurors found 36-year-old Rachel Kinsella guilty Thursday of first-degree assault and child endangerment, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2nv9aYy ) reports.

Assistant Prosecutor Sheila Whirley told jurors Kinsella put the boy at "death's door" and that he has not had a seizure since he was removed from her custody in January 2015, although he still has epilepsy. Kinsella, of Meadville, Missouri, told police she "accidentally" gave her then-9-year-old son the wrong medication "on occasion," and her attorneys said the presence of various drugs in the boy's system did not prove she was poisoning him.

But doctors told police the types and amount of drugs found in the boy's system revealed intentional poisoning.

Authorities said the poisoning occurred in 2014. Kinsella simultaneously sought treatment for the boy at St. Louis Children's Hospital and Children's Mercy Kansas City, but never told doctors at either hospital, Whirley said. Doctors struggled to diagnose his condition and gave him more than a dozen blood treatments and surgeries.

Police have said Kinsella tried to attract attention by faking her child's need for medical care.

"She manufactured illnesses," Whirley told jurors Thursday. "People don't want to believe that a mother would do this because mothers are supposed to plant the seeds of love that grow for a lifetime."

Whirley also said Patrick's father died in 2012 without a will, resulting in the child's aunt becoming the court-appointed manager of a $275,000 inheritance for the boy. By keeping the boy sick, Whirley suggested, Kinsella could get inheritance payments to care for her son.

After the verdict was read, relatives and prosecutors hugged in the courtroom, proclaiming, "He's safe! He's safe!" The boy, now 11, is living with his paternal grandparents.

But Gregory Smith, one of Kinsella's attorneys, said he was disappointed. "I have no doubt that she loves her son as much as any parent," he said.

Sentencing is set for May 26. She faces up to 30 years in prison.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com