Alexis Murray Smith was sentenced to 14 years in prison Wednesday for the death of her 12-year-old son Brent Sullivan who fatally overdosed on fentanyl.
She was charged with a count each of intentional child abuse resulting in death and child abuse not resulting in death as Murray Smith’s infant daughter was also present at the home where Sullivan died on Sept. 28, 2021, in the 2400 block of Western Way.
Murray Smith had left her children at the house, owned by her mother Kelli Smith, the night before, and police said she knew Sullivan had access to the drug that killed him.
Murray was found guilty on both counts following a four-day jury trial that concluded Sept. 16 that included testimony from family members including her husband at the time and Sullivan’s stepfather Christopher Murray.
Sentence reduced by ‘mitigating factors,’ judge says
District Judge Lisa Riley opted to reduce Murray Smith’s sentence by four years from the maximum 18 years asked for by the State due to “mitigating factors,” and ordered a three-year sentence for the second charge to run concurrently.
She will also serve two years’ parole upon release.
Riley said the facts of the case were “in stark contrast” to most other child abuse cases involving beatings, burnings or other injuries caused upon children.
“This is one of those cases where we came in with just a horrendous result and the death of a very young boy that never should have happened,” Riley said. “I’m not questioning the jury’s decision, but mitigating factors are different. She, prior to this addiction, had been a good mom and productive member of society.”
Riley also opted to require Murray Smith undergo drug treatment and counseling while incarcerated.
“One day, you will be released,” the judge said to Murray Smith. “And I don’t want you to be a danger to society when you are.”
Before her sentence was announced, Murray Smith addressed the court, describing Sullivan as “her whole world.”
“I can’t do anything to change what happened,” she said. “I know my part in this. I also know I love my kids. I loved my son. I have lost everything already. It’s all gone. He really was my whole world.”
‘He learned from her drug use,’ prosecutor says ahead of sentencing
A victim advocate read a statement from Murray who was in attendance but did not address the court directly.
The statement detailed how Murray Smith became addicted to fentanyl, and argued she ultimately chose the drug above her family.
“All she was interested in was getting high,” read Murray’s statement. “Someone choosing drugs over their children’s lives is something I will never understand. That is what happened in this case.”
Carlsbad Police Detective Joey Landgraf, the lead case agent, said more than two years after her son’s death, Murray Smith had not accepted responsibility for the incident.
Landgraf also pointed to testimony brought during the trial that Sullivan was entered into a treatment program in El Paso for his fentanyl use, but was pulled out by Murray Smith against a doctor’s recommendation.
“She has not taken responsibility for her actions at all,” Landgraf said. “She still to this day wants to know why this is happening to her. That is concerning for me.”
Fifth Judicial District Attorney Dianna Luce argued ahead of sentencing that Sullivan was influenced by his mother to smoke fentanyl, describing how his body was found in a shed like where Murray Smith said she used.
Luce reminded the court that Sullivan overdosed at least three times before, according to testimony at trial, once at Murray Smith’s house in the 800 block of Alamosa and twice at Smith’s on Western Way.
No subsequent medical treatment was sought by the boy’s mother in any of those incidents, Luce attested.
“Her testimony was that she was a good mom and didn’t do anything wrong and it was appropriate to for her to leave her children at that home,” Luce said of the defendant. “This is a tough case. She knew he had the drugs.
“He learned from her drug use. He died by her allowing him to have access to those drugs.”
Defense Attorney Todd Holmes asked Riley to reduce Murray Smith’s sentence by a third, lowering it from 18 to 12 years, and asked that she be released to attend a drug rehabilitation program.
He described his client as a good mother who suffered from substance abuse and became powerless to addiction.
“You heard a lot of testimony that Lexi was very functioning and for 10 months she was addicted to this deadly substance,” Holmes said. “The physical withdrawals you go through, frankly, Lexi was afraid of that.”
He said Murray Smith was actively planning to go to rehab with her son when he died, displaying that she was taking steps to address both her and Sullivan’s addictions.
“She came up with a plan that was the right plan,” Holmes said. “It just came a little bit too late. This isn’t a case of Lexi just dumping her kids and running around getting high. She left her kids at a place she thought was safe. There were attempts to safeguard this from happening.”
This article originally appeared on Carlsbad Current-Argus: Mother gets 14 years for son Brent Sullivan’s fentanyl overdose death
EMEA Tribune is not involved in this news article, it is taken from our partners and or from the News Agencies. Copyright and Credit go to the News Agencies, email [email protected] Follow our WhatsApp verified Channel