A South Carolina woman has been convicted of homicide by child abuse after her six-week-old daughter died from a dose of morphine through the woman’s breast milk.
Stephanie Greene, a former nurse, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after she was found guilty of homicide by child abuse, as well as involuntary manslaughter and unlawful conduct toward a child. She will be eligible for parole in 16 years.
This is believed to be the first ever case in which a mother has been prosecuted in the US for killing a child through a substance transmitted through breast milk.
The 39-year-old had lost her nursing license after she attempted to illegally acquire drugs. Prosecutors allege that Greene hid her pregnancy from doctors to acquire prescription painkillers. According to medical reports, the level of morphine found in the baby’s system at the time of death could have even been lethal for an adult.
Prosecutor Barry Barnette told the courtroom that “She was a nurse. She knew how to work the system. She caused the loss of that child.” “We make sacrifices every day for our children,” Barnette added. “She decided she was going to have her drugs and sacrifice the health, and ultimately the life, of her child.”
Greene’s lawyer, Rauch Wise, had argued that she was merely suffering from pain from a car accident that occurred over a decade ago. In court, Wise argued that “She needed those meds to get up in the morning and function. She was on total disability because of her pain, her fibromyalgia and all the other things wrong with her.” Wise also stated that “The court can’t punish her any more than she already has been by losing a child.”
Greene faces another 38 counts of obtaining prescription drugs through fraud.
Greene has another child, a 7-year-old boy, who is now staying with his father. She also has another two kids from a previous marriage.