SPARTANBURG, S.C. — A judge today sentenced a South Carolina woman to 20 years in prison for killing her 6-week-old daughter with what prosecutors say was an overdose of morphine delivered through her breast milk.
Both the prosecutor and the woman’s lawyer agree no mother has ever been prosecuted in the United States for killing her child through a substance transmitted in breast milk.
A prosecutor said Stephanie Greene, 39, was a nurse and knew the dangers of taking painkillers while pregnant and breast feeding, instead choosing to conceal her pregnancy from doctors so she could keep getting her prescriptions. She lost her nursing license in 2004 for trying to get drugs illegally.
Greene’s lawyer said she was only trying to stop debilitating pain from a car crash more than a decade before and relied on her own judgment and medical research on the Internet instead of the advice of doctors.
The 20-year sentence was the minimum after a Spartanburg County jury found Greene guilty today of homicide by child abuse.