San Leandro, CA – In March of 2011, a California woman was arrested and accused of killing her physically and mentally disabled daughter in what investigators believe was a botched murder-suicide.
Police claim that around 1pm, Friday, March 11, 2011, Christel Johnson, now 56, placed her 8-year-old daughter Lylah alongside her in a minivan parked inside the closed garage of their home on Leonard Drive.
With the intention of committing a murder-suicide, Johnson attached a vacuum hose to the vehicle’s exhaust pipe and funneled the other end through the van’s rear window. Thus gradually filling up the interior with toxic fumes.
Lylah suffered several serious disabilities including brain damage, cerebral palsy, and had scoliosis, and required a regular care provider. The care worker arrived at the home, discovered the mother and daughter inside the running van, and contacted authorities.
The two suffered severe symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Subsequently, Lylah was pronounced dead by medical staff upon arriving at the local hospital for treatment, and her mother was charged in her death.
On Thursday, an Alameda County Superior Court jury convicted Johnson of second-degree murder, reports CBS News.
The California penal code states that any person found guilty of second-degree murder – a person who willfully, deliberately, and premeditated killed – could face 15-years-to-life in a state prison.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that carbon monoxide poisoning claims nearly 400 lives, and causes more than 20,000 visits to hospital emergency departments annually – both accidental and intentional.
Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs after enough carbon monoxide (CO) – a toxic, colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas – is inhaled to cause extreme lightheadedness, dizziness, confusion, headaches, unconsciousness, and ultimately death. Exposures at 100 parts per million (ppm) or greater can be dangerous to human health.
The adverse effects of carbon monoxide exposure is mainly caused when CO combines with hemoglobin to form carboxyhemoglobin (HbCO) in the blood. This action prevents hemoglobin from releasing oxygen in tissues, thus diminishing the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, and leads to hypoxia.
Carbon monoxide is a product of incomplete combustion of organic matter due to insufficient oxygen supply to enable complete oxidation to carbon dioxide (CO2). It is often produced in domestic or industrial settings by older motor vehicles and other gasoline-powered tools, heaters, and cooking equipment.
Acute overexposure can be treated by administering 100 percent oxygen or providing hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Oxygen works as an antidote as it increases the removal of carbon monoxide from hemoglobin, in turn providing the body with homeostatic levels of oxygen.
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