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Court upholds murder conviction in baby's death

ATLANTA (AP) -- The top court in the U.S. state of Georgia on Monday upheld the conviction and life sentence against a vegan couple over the death of their malnourished 6-week-old boy, who was fed a diet largely consisting of soy milk and apple juice.

The Georgia Supreme Court's unanimous ruling rejected appeals by Jade Sanders and Lamont Thomas, who were convicted and sentenced after a jury found them guilty of malice murder, felony murder, involuntary manslaughter and cruelty to children for the April 2004 death of Crown Shakur.

The two first-time parents rushed the infant to the hospital after he began to have trouble breathing and doctors declared him dead on arrival after failing to resuscitate him. They found his death was due to extreme malnourishment or starvation, and police then searched the couple's apartment.

They found a soy milk bottle, an apple juice bottle and a rancid-smelling baby bottle caked with debris. Prosecutors said an investigation revealed the two only fed their baby soy milk and apple juice, and contended at the 2007 trial that the couple intentionally neglected their child and refused to take him to the doctor even as the baby's body wasted away.

Defense attorneys countered that the first-time parents did the best they could while adhering to the lifestyle of vegans, who typically use no animal products. They said Sanders and Thomas did not realize the baby was in danger until they rushed his emaciated body to the hospital.

``I loved my son _ and I did not starve him,'' Jade Sanders said at her May 2007 sentencing hearing.

In her appeal, Sanders' attorney argued the evidence wasn't strong enough to support the verdict. And Thomas' lawyer claimed his trial attorney was ineffective because he failed to call an expert to support his theory that his son's death was linked to cystic fibrosis and not starvation.

But the opinion, which was written by Presiding Justice George Carley, rejected both arguments. The evidence, the justices concluded, was sufficient to find both parents were ``guilty of the crimes for which they were convicted.''

<한글요약>

6주 아기 영양실조로 숨지게 한 부부 종신형



미국 조지아주 대법원은 12일 자신의 갓난 아이를 영양실조로 숨지게 한 혐의로 무기징역을 선고받은 채식주의자 부부의 상고를 기각하고 이들에 대한 종전의 판결을 확정했다.

대법원은 이날 생후 6주 된 아들 크라운 샤커에게 두유와 사과주스만을 먹여 숨 지게 한 제이드 샌더스와 라몬트 토머스 부부가 유죄라고 믿을 만한 충분한 증거가 있다며 이들의 상고를 기각한다고 밝혔다.

지난 2007년 과실치사와 아동학대죄로 유죄 판결을 받았던 이들은 대법원에 배심원 평결을 입증할 만큼 증거가 충분하지 않다며 상고했었다.

또 샤커가 굶주림이 아니라 낭포성 섬유증으로 숨졌다는 주장을 입증하려 했지만, 전문가를 구하지 못해 제대로 변론할 수 없었다고 주장했다.

엄격한 채식주의자인 이들은 2004년 4월 숨진 아들 샤커의 사망 원인이 굶주림 에 따른 극심한 영양실조라는 사실이 드러나면서 경찰 조사를 받았다.

이후 부부의 아파트에 대한 압수수색에서 두유 병과 사과주스, 찌꺼기로 딱딱해 져서 고약한 냄새가 나는 젖병이 발견돼, 의도적으로 아이를 방치하고 수척해졌는데 도 병원에 데려가지 않은 혐의로 2007년 종신형을 선고 받았다.

피고 측 변호사는 당시 이들이 처음으로 부모가 된 상황에서 자신들의 생활 방식인 채식주의를 지키면서 양육에 최선을 다했다고 반론했지만, 유죄 판결을 뒤집지 는 못했다.



 

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