Mistrial Declared in Trial of Woman Accused of Poisoning Son - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Mistrial Declared in Trial of Woman Accused of Poisoning Son

Stephanie McMullen Stephanie McMullen

07/06/2006 4:04 PM ET

WILMINGTON (AP)- The trial of a former pediatric nurse accused of poisoning her son by injecting him with feces ended in a mistrial after jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict.

Superior Court Judge Joseph R. Slights III declared a mistrial Thursday in the criminal case against Stephanie McMullen, 30, after the jury sent a second note reporting the deadlock.

Jurors voted 9-3 to convict McMullen of assault by abuse or neglect and 7-5 to acquit her of first-degree reckless endangering, according to forewoman Amy Jerman. 

"We will be retrying it, short of her taking a plea," said deputy attorney general Josette Manning. 

Jerman said it was difficult to reach a unanimous verdict because the accusations against McMullen were based on "about 85 percent circumstantial evidence."

Prosecutors told jurors that Reilly McMullen's health had improved after he was taken from his mother. The boy, now 3, has been in foster care since April 2005. 

McMullen's defense attorney, Edmund Lyons Jr., told the jury there was no physical evidence to show that his client had injected the boy with feces. He suggested that a number of other people could have poisoned the boy, including staff at Alfred I. du Pont Hospital for Children.

Detectives began investigating McMullen after doctors at the hospital, where McMullen also worked, reported that the toddler had been hospitalized six times since he was four months old for potentially life-threatening illnesses. Doctors told investigators that during one examination, they detected E. coli, a bacteria found in feces, in the boy's bloodstream, and that the only way it could have entered the bloodstream was through injection. 

According to court records, law enforcement officers found needles, a syringe holder and an intravenous line tap in McMullen's hospital locker, and an examination of her home computer indicated she had been researching child poisoning.

 

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