Convictions Upheld in Dehydration Death
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ The state Supreme Court upheld the negligent homicide and cruelty convictions Wednesday of a Hamden woman in the dehydration death of her friend’s 23-month-old son.
The court’s 7-0 decision confirmed the convictions of Sharon Patterson in the 2008 death of Amari Jackson. Patterson was sentenced in 2009 to five years in prison followed by five years of probation.
Authorities said Patterson, 44, deprived the boy of fluids for at least a week to try to get him to stop wetting the bed, and she left cups laced with hot sauce around her apartment to teach the boy not to drink from other people’s glasses. The chief medical examiner’s office said Amari died of dehydration.
The boy’s mother, Sara Hicks, said Patterson offered to care for her son for about a week while Hicks herself was sick with a fever and also had an 8-month-old daughter to care for. Patterson’s brother, Robert Patterson, also helped care for the boy that week and was sentenced to five years of probation for his role in the death.
In upholding a state Appellate Court ruling, justices rejected Sharon Patterson’s argument that her mental disability prevented her from knowing that withholding liquids from the boy could cause him to die. Court documents say Patterson’s IQ is 61 and doctors deemed her to be mentally disabled.
The court noted that when Sharon Patterson called emergency responders on the morning of Feb. 26, 2008, to report that Amari wasn’t breathing, she told a dispatcher that the boy was dehydrated, meaning she knew denying him liquids could cause him harm.
Patterson, who was released from prison in October, didn’t return a message left at her home Wednesday. Her daughter answered the phone and declined to comment.
Patterson’s lawyer, Mary Beattie Schairer, said she disagreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“It was a very sad, terrible situation, as it always is when a child dies,” Schairer said. “However, due to her disability, I don’t think my client understood that she was subjecting him to harm.”
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