Spartanburg County, South Carolina – Stephanie Greene is a former nurse who lost her license to practice ten years ago for attempting to obtain drugs illegally. Her six-week old daughter died back in 2010 and the toxicology report indicated the presence of morphine at levels where the opiate would take the life of an adult. Prosecutors charged Mrs. Greene with homicide by child abuse claiming that her morphine drug habit combined with breast feeding passed the drug into the child ultimately killing the infant. A jury in this provincial area of the state agreed and have sentenced Mrs. Greene to 20 years in prison with a requirement to serve 16 before she can appear before a parole board. This will have the former nurse leaving prison when she is 55 or 56 years old.
Speaking to reporters, her attorneys claimed that the prosecution did not prove that the morphine entered the baby’s body via breast feeding. They have stated that Mrs. Greene is devastated by the jury’s decision which comes upon the deep grief she has for the loss of her baby. Her attorneys have assured her and the press that an appeal is forthcoming. There may be merit to an appeal as the jury decision is unprecedented.
Up to this week, no one had ever been convicted for homicide by transmitting a narcotic to their baby via breast milk. According to Greene’s attorney, available science does not substantiate the premise of high levels of morphine being transmitted via breastfeeding. If true, it certainly increases the chances than an appeals court might authorize a re-trial. The prosecution did not offer any other explanation for how the child could have gotten such a high level of morphine in its blood stream. The crime scene found the presence of numerous bottles of prescription drugs.