Daniel Dana
Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office
Daniel Dana
KC Baker
February 28, 2017 05:43 PM

A Maryland mother has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for fatally poisoning her 5-year-old son with cold medicine and setting a car on fire with his body inside to cover up the murder, PEOPLE confirms.

Enraged by an acrimonious divorce and custody battle with the father of her only child, Narges Shafeirad, 35, murdered the boy out of jealousy and revenge, prosecutors said in court papers obtained by PEOPLE.

Shafeirad was angry at her soon-to-be ex-husband, Hamid Dana, 53, and jealous of his relationship with his nanny, prosecutors said. Before killing their son, Daniel Dana, she allegedly told him, “I will make you cry. You will be sorry,” according to court records.

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Shafeirad pleaded guilty in 2016 in exchange for the 50-year sentence, NBC reports.

According to the court records, she admitted she had grown depressed because of the divorce and custody fight — and because she lost her job and then the apartment she and the child shared.

“I was a broken woman,” she told the court, the Washington Post reports. “I am still not able to believe that I have lost my son.”

Even though Shafeirad spoke in court, she never explained exactly why she killed her son, said Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Nelson Rupp. “A mother murdering her child is a crime so horrific that it is natural to try to determine why,” said Rupp, the Post reports.

Rupp added, “The only thing that I can conclude is that it was a determination made by the defendant for reasons only she knows of.”

Her public defenders did not return PEOPLE’s calls for comment. She is currently still being held in the Montgomery County Detention Center.

One of her attorneys, Melanie Creedon, said in court that Shafeirad did not act out of jealousy or follow a calculated plan, the Post reports.

“This was an act of a helpless and hopeless, broken woman who had basically reached the end, and who saw no way out,” Creedon said.

‘Poisonedat the Hands of His Own Mother’

According to court records, on June 15, 2015, Shafeirad forced her son to ingest more than an entire bottle cold medicine, even though the boy was not sick. That night, she continued to give him lethal doses of the medicine — which contained diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in over-the-counter medications such as Sominex, Unisom and Benadryl — every two to four hours until he died, according to the court records.

The amount of diphenhydramine in Daniel’s blood was 150 percent of the amount that would kill an adult, the medical examiner’s report states.

Scrapes and bruises found on the boy’s face — particularly around his mouth — suggest that his mother repeatedly force-fed him the medicine, the court records said.

Prosecutors said she tried to cover up the murder by setting a car she borrowed from a friend on fire with her son’s lifeless body stuffed in the backseat on the floor. She did so at around 3:30 a.m. on June 16, 2015 –the same day she and Dana had scheduled their final divorce and custody proceedings.

When police arrived at the scene, they found Shafeirad lying on the ground next to the burning car, screaming for help, according to the arrest warrant.

But the car was locked, with the boy inside.

She told police she and her son were heading to the beach and that she had filled water bottles with gasoline in case she couldn’t find a gas station during their trip. The car caught on fire when she lit a cigarette, she claimed.

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According to prosecutors, she staged the car fire, which authorities quickly ruled as arson. She sustained burns on 40 percent of her body and was hospitalized for a month.

She was arrested about two weeks later, when an autopsy on the boy showed he was poisoned.

Her son was already dead – poisoned by the medicine, when she lit the fire, the medical examiner ruled.

“I think there’s the impression, especially in this case, ‘Well, at least he wasn’t burned to death and he was poisoned to death,’ ” Assistant State’s Attorney Marybeth Ayres said in court, according to the Post. “Well, no, it’s not some peaceful thing where you just fall asleep. . . . Even to an adult, these things would be extremely scary.”

The boy’s father, in an emotional letter written to the judge and obtained by PEOPLE, wrote, “How can a father explain all the loss that there is when he loses his 5-year-old son? The worst of it is that Daniel didn’t pass in an accident or swimming pool or some fun children’s activity. He passed at the hands of the woman that was supposed to be his mother. He passed because this woman wanted to get back at me and seek revenge for divorcing her.”

‘I Wake Up at Night with Nightmares’

In his letter to the judge, Dana wrote that he met Shafeirad through his family. After marrying in Iran in 2007, Shafeirad gave birth two years later to their only child, Daniel Dana, according to court records.

The family settled in Gaithersburg, where Dana ran a business selling produce. But after “lots of problems and disagreements,” the couple separated and are now divorced.

While Dana wrote in his letter that he “knew” that Shafeirad was “not caring for Daniel,” he believed it was important for the child to spend time with both his father and a mother. “Now thinking back, I have to question this decision,” he wrote.

In the letter, Dana writes about the plans and dreams he had for his son, such as “fishing, playing baseball and watching movies and cartoons, becoming his first hero and watching him tell me about his super heroes.”

Calling Daniel “my everything,” he wrote that now that his son is gone, “I am a hopeless person walking.

“I wake up at nights with nightmares. I keep seeing Daniel’s beautiful face being forced a bottle of poison. Daniel had a beautiful face but he didn’t like medicine. So I keep dreaming how Narges forced the medicine down his mouth, and that was the last thing Daniel experienced in this world. Why?”

Daniel’s murder, he wrote, “was not a moment of a bad decision. It was planned out of revenge.”

When they began the divorce process, he wrote that he told her that he would give her “a car, the house and pay for Daniel’s needs if she could just be a mother to Daniel, but she said no.

“She told me she was going to make me pay for divorcing her and that was going to make me cry forever.”

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