Erika Wigstrom, the Louisiana mother who confessed two years ago to murdering her infant son with hand sanitizer, has now been sentenced to 40 years in prison. The child, Lucas Ruiz, was born with both Down’s Syndrome and a heart defect. He died in January, 2014 at the age of just 17 months.
People reports that Lucas underwent surgery at a young age to correct an atrioventricular canal defect, which is commonly associated with Down’s Syndrome. Out of ten newborns with Down’s Syndrome, about four will have congenital heart disease.
Although Lucas recovered and no longer had a heart problem, the surgery left the Down’s Syndrome-afflicted infant dependent on a feeding tube. That tube would prove to be instrumental in the child’s death at the hands of his own mother.
As previously reported by Inquisitr, Wigstrom placed a call to 911 on January 24, 2014, and reported that her son was ill. When authorities arrived on the scene, they found the child to be unresponsive.
Although he was transported to New Orleans Children’s Hospital, Lucas was pronounced dead on arrival.
An autopsy revealed that Lucas’ blood alcohol level was 0.28 at the time of his death, and the ensuing investigation revealed that this wasn’t the first time the Down’s Syndrome-afflicted child had been exposed to alcohol.
In 2012, Cesar Ruiz, Lucas’ father, was arrested under suspicion of having administered alcohol through the child’s feeding tube. He admitted to pouring rum in the tube, and was incarcerated, his case still pending, at the time of his son’s death nearly two years later.
Wigstrom was indicted on first-degree murder charges two months after the death of her son, and she ultimately confessed to both the murder and the earlier attempted murder.
When Wigstrom confessed to both crimes, Cesar Ruiz was charged with criminal mischief for his false confession. According to The Times-Picayune, that charge carried a maximum sentence of six months. At the time, Ruiz had already been in custody for over a year.
Wigstrom was indicted by a Plaquemines Parish grand jury on March 26, 2014, according to The Times-Picayune. The charge was first-degree murder, which is a capital offense in Louisiana.
On Tuesday, September 16, 2015, Wigstrom was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter for killing her Down’s Syndrome-afflicted child. She was sentenced to 40 years in prison. According to The Times-Picayune, that is the maximum sentence for the charge.
Wigstrom claimed that she administered hand sanitizer to the child to put him out of his misery, as he suffered from Down’s Syndrome and was unable to feed himself.
[Photo via Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office]