A 22-year-old mother from New Orleans was sentenced to 40 years in prison for killing her 17-month-old son with hand sanitizer. The mother claims the murder was an “act of mercy” as the child suffered from Down syndrome and a heart defect.
Fox 23 News reports that Erika Wigstrom pleaded guilty to charges on Tuesday after admitting to poisoning her toddler son with hand sanitizer. The mother says she put hand sanitizer into her son’s feeding tube as an “act of mercy.” The 17-month-old boy died from alcohol poisoning with a blood-alcohol level of.28 percent.
According to the Times-Picayune, Wigstrom pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter, and the judge gave her the maximum sentence of 40 years without any benefit of probation or suspension of sentence. Therefore, the New Orleans mother will spend the full 40 years behind bars.
The sheriff says that Wigstrom admitted to poisoning the toddler with the hand sanitizer because of medical conditions. The child, Lucas Ruiz, was born with Down syndrome and atrioventricular canal defect, a condition that left him with holes in his heart. The condition required that he receive a corrective surgery; therefore, a feeding tube was needed. One day, Wigstrom decided to put her son out of his misery as an “act of mercy” by putting GermX hand sanitizer into the feeding tube. As a result of the mother’s actions, the toddler passed away the very next day from alcohol poisoning.
Charges against Wigstrom also indicate that she may have attempted to kill her son on a previous occasion with alcohol-based perfume. However, the attempted murder charges were complicated when the boy’s father, Cesar Ruiz, admitted to putting rum in the child’s feeding tube. The father claimed he replaced the toddler’s sugar-water bag with rum when he was admitted at Ochsner Medical Center in 2012. Despite the confession, police later ruled that Ruiz was simply trying to protect Wigstrom as his alleged alcohol poisoning attempt coincided with the time-frame in which Wigstrom gave the child the perfume. Therefore, police dropped the second-degree cruelty to a juvenile wagered against Ruiz and downgraded them to a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief. The criminal mischief charge has a maximum sentence of six months in prison.
Cesar served a year behind bars after his confession; therefore, he has already served his full sentence. In addition to the time behind bars, he was also ordered to pay an $850 fine.
Do you think 40 years is enough for intentionally putting poison into a toddler’s feeding tube? Do you think her plea that the act was out of “mercy” helped her case? What do you think about the charges against the father?
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