Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The almost final word on Rebecca Riley- Mom Guilty

Mass. mom guilty of murder in girl's fatal OD
February 09, 2010 7:53 PM EST

BROCKTON, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts woman was convicted of second-degree murder Tuesday in the fatal prescription drug overdose of her 4-year-old daughter.

Carolyn Riley, 35, was accused of overmedicating her daughter, Rebecca, on powerful drugs prescribed by a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder by the time she was 3.

Prosecutors said Riley and her husband, Michael, concocted symptoms of mental illness in their daughter in an attempt to collect federal disability benefits, then overmedicated her for months to keep her quiet and out of their way.

Defense lawyers said Rebecca died of a severe, fast-moving pneumonia, not a drug overdose.

The case reignited debate in the psychiatric community about whether young children can accurately be diagnosed with bipolar disorder and whether they should be treated with powerful adult drugs.

Jurors reached their verdict on the third day of deliberations, rejecting a first-degree murder charge and opting instead for the lesser second-degree murder charge.

Riley showed no emotion as the jury announced its verdict. Superior Court Judge Charles Hely immediately sentenced her to the mandatory term of life in prison, with parole eligibility after 15 years.

Michael Riley faces a separate trial.

Rebecca was found dead on the floor of her parents' bedroom on Dec. 13, 2006.

A state medical examiner testified that the girl died of a combination of Clonidine, a blood pressure medication the girl had been prescribed for ADHD; Depakote, an antiseizure and mood-stabilizing drug prescribed for bipolar disorder; and two over-the-counter drugs, a cough suppressant and an antihistamine.

Rebecca's uncle and his girlfriend testified that they pleaded with the Rileys to take the girl to a doctor in the final days of her life, when she grew increasingly ill. Instead of getting medical attention for her, Carolyn Riley gave her a lethal dose of Clonidine, prosecutors said.

Defense attorneys portrayed Riley as a loving mother who was struggling to raise Rebecca and her two siblings, who also had been diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder and were taking similar medications. The defense said Riley followed the advice of her children's psychiatrist, Dr. Kayoko Kifuji, in the amount of drugs she gave her children.

Riley did not testify during the trial. But prosecutors played videotapes of her during an interview with police after her daughter's death and a later interview for the television news show, "60 Minutes." She said she believed her daughter only had a cold, not pneumonia, in the last few days of her life.

Kifuji, who testified after receiving immunity, said she relied on Riley's description of her daughter's behavior in diagnosing her and also repeatedly wrote prescriptions with increased dosages of the girl's psychotropic medications after the mother told her she had already increased them on her own.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Deputy's Wife said...

You've got to be kidding me! Any mother who has their child diagnosed as Bipolar at age 3 should lose all rights and the pdoc who diagnoses a 3 year old should lose their license. This makes me so mad. I think the mom suffered from Munchhausen Syndrome. What do you think?

susan said...

I don't know, but look at the new DSM V on line- they are changing the criteria for childhood bipolar......

susan said...

sorry, here's the link for the new DSM< if you have time to read it all, I know you have a little one.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the DSM-V link, Susan! Hadn't seen this.

susan said...

You are welcome Carter. Will write about it shortly, just been enjoying the snow too much to really write today.

Stephany said...

Alarmingly, Rebecca has an older sibling that was dx bipolar first by that psychiatrist. Just adding to the discussion here, I feel the psychiatrist had an enormous responsibility, and rx'ing these drugs so readily to an entire family of children...well she (the doctor) really needs to be held accountable--even if it was to report the mother to CPS--but the psychiatrist just kept on drugging the kids, based on no criteria for toddlers and Seroquel use, Depakote use, etc. Rebecca suffered a preventable tragic death, at the expense of her life, all based on a medication based paradigm and a drug company influenced group of doctors promoting the pediatric bipolar dx.

How many more kids will die this way? or be permanently injured, (brain damaged).

abellve said...

I was amazed today that in two days a woman was convicted for sedating her kid to death and the DSM draft came out with some pretty heavy implications and the main story on all the major news networks was that...wait for it...it snowed in the winter in the northeast.

susan said...

Abeilieve= you and I are the only ones that saw the connection.

I wanted to say that, but frankly, I got raked over the coals by someone years ago who said I should keep my mouth shut on the bipolar child issue because I did not have a child. That may be true, but I just cannot see how a child can be diagnosed as bipolar. Hyperactive, yes, but that is usually caused from diet, no?
Everyone seems to have written about the blog yesterday, including someone who made no mention of the child paradigm. strange....

Stephany- two things, Please check at the above bloggers blog, it's really good, he;s a friend from Facebook, Mark just added him to his blog roll.

Almost 2 feet of snow here- and I wish I could beam you and Koda and Koda's favorite male handler for half an hour here to walk in the snow here with me and stop in Duncan Donuts for coffee.

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