Jennifer Clarey said she had been hospitalized four times for mental health treatment, and was found next to her dead son with her wrists cut
A Pennsylvania mom who fatally poisoned her 2-year-old son by putting Vicodin and Benadryl in his sippy cup is headed to prison for up to 50 years.
A no-contest plea Tuesday by Jennifer Clarey, of Tullytown, averted a trial on charges of third-degree murder and endangering the welfare of a child, setting up the sentence handed down by Senior Judge Clyde W. Waite, according to a statement from the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office obtained by PEOPLE.
“You were there to protect this child, and instead you were so reckless, so thoughtless, so selfish so as to take this child’s life before he had the chance to experience all life has to offer,” the judge said, according to the statement. “This cannot be accepted in a civilized society.”
The toddler, Mazikeen Clarey, was found laying dead on a bed by police and social workers on Aug. 25, 2018, next to his 43-year-old mother, who had cut her wrists.
The discovery came as officials from the office of Bucks County Children and Youth Services made a welfare check at the mother’s residence.
Inside the boy’s sippy cup at the home, authorities discovered residue of oxycodone.
In a trash can, investigators found an empty bottle of Benadryl. A locked strong box in the home contained an empty bottle for a prescription of 120 Vicodin tablets.
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Clarey was charged in 2018 in connection with the boy’s death after the medical examiner concluded he’d died from poisoning by oxycodone and diphenhydramine, the active ingredients in Benadryl and Vicodin, according to the prosecutor.
“It goes beyond a terrible tragedy,” District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub said at a news conference when he announced the charge. “This was clearly a murderous act.”
Clarey’s no-contest plea does not admit guilt, “but acknowledges evidence in a case is sufficient to support a conviction at trial,” and carries the same weight as a guilty plea, according to the district attorney’s office.
In response to a question in court, Clarey said she had been hospitalized four times for mental health treatment, including shortly before she killed her son, reports NBC Philadelphia. She did not otherwise make a statement in court.
Her plea deal allowed the judge to sentence her to an agreed-upon term of 25 to 50 years in prison.