Mineola, NY — A New York mother who admitted to drowning her three children in February 2008 to “save them from voodoo” is now seeking a cut of their estate money.
Leatrice Brewer pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect in 2009, and has been in a secure facility in upstate New York ever since. She will stay there until psychiatrists decide that she is no longer mentally ill.
“Leatrice Brewer will be in court because of the arguments and the potential that a decision will be made,” Nassau Surrogate Edward W. McCarty III said during a pretrial hearing.
Brewer drowned the children in a bathtub one by one, and laid them in a row on her bed. She then tried to commit suicide by drinking Windex, OxiClean, bleach, and taking a bottle of aspirin, according to prosecutors. The next morning, she attempted suicide again by jumping out the second-story window of her New Cassel apartment. When that failed, she called 911 and confessed to killing her three children.
The 33-year-old is now seeking to claim money from the wrongful death settlements paid by Nassau County to the children’s estates.
Innocent Demesyeux, the father of two of the children, settled a $250,000 lawsuit against Nassau County in 2011. Demesyeux said social service caseworkers could have done more to save 5-year-old Michael and 18-month-old Innocent Demesyeux Jr. A lawsuit filed on behalf of 6-year-old Jewell Ward was settled for $100,000 last year.
If Leatrice Brewer is successful, it is unlikely she will get to keep the money. There is a $1.2 million lien against her for psychiatric counseling and other services she received since her arrest.
Under New York’s Son of Sam law, named for the Son of Sam murder committed by serial killer David Berkowitz in the 1970s, criminals cannot profit from their crimes, such as by selling the rights to their story to filmmakers or publishers. However, since Leatrice Brewer was not convicted of the crime, her attorneys argue that she should not be subjected to the Son of Sam law.