Criminal Justice

Mom convicted of killing daughter via breast-milk morphine overdose gets 20-year sentence

A South Carolina woman convicted of causing her baby’s death by breast feeding while on morphine has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Stephanie Irene Greene, 39, of Campobello was sentenced on Friday, a day after her conviction, report the Associated Press, and the Spartanburg Herald Journal. Spartanburg jurors had convicted Greene of homicide by child abuse, involuntary manslaughter and unlawful conduct toward a child.

Greene’s 6-week-old daughter, Alexis, was found dead in her parents’ bed in November 2010. Prosecutors said Alexis had fatal levels of morphine, as well as some Klonopin, in her system.

Prosecutors had alleged Greene didn’t disclose the morphine prescription to her obstetrician and didn’t reveal her pregnancy and breastfeeding to doctors who prescribed the medication. They also said Greene used two last names when filling prescriptions.

Solicitor Barry Barnette told jurors in closing arguments that Greene, a former nurse, knew how to work the system, according to a prior story by the Spartanburg Herald. “She loved her drugs more than she loved her child,” Barnette said.

Greene’s lawyer, Rauch Wise, had argued that morphine is prescribed to nursing mothers and there has never been a reported death in the United States caused by morphine in breast milk, the Spartanburg Herald says. Wise said Greene was taking morphine for chronic pain, and medications prescribed by two different doctors were dispensed at the same pharmacy.

An expert witness for the defense had testified that a genetic test would have shown whether Alexis lacked a specific enzyme that could have broken down morphine.

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