Oregon mom gets life in prison for throwing autistic son off bridge: newspaper

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 23, 2016 4:20 PM

SEATTLE (Reuters) - An Oregon woman has been sentenced to life in prison for throwing her autistic 6-year-old son to his death from a bridge in the coastal town of Newport in 2014, the Oregonian newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Jillian McCabe, 36, pleaded guilty to murder in a Lincoln County court on Monday, the newspaper reported.

The newspaper, citing District Attorney Michelle Branam, reported that McCabe left a trail online that showed she had planned the act for weeks, researched legal defenses based upon findings of insanity and appeared to fake mental illness.

Local broadcaster KGW quoted Branam as saying that McCabe's Google searches prior to her son's death included: "Can you die from falling 133 feet into water?"

Authorities say McCabe called police on Nov. 3, 2014, to report that she had tossed her son London from the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport, a town of some 10,000 about 115 miles southwest of Portland.

The U.S. Coast Guard sent two boats and a helicopter to help search for London before his body was spotted in the water near the Embarcadero Resort, about a mile from the bridge, by a diner about four hours after she reported the incident, police said.

A website previously set up by McCabe to seek financial aid, helpmatt.org, described her family as facing financial challenges after a brain injury landed her husband in hospital for four months last year and left him unemployed upon his release.

McCabe's admission of guilt followed a plea deal under which prosecutors agreed to drop additional charges of aggravated murder and manslaughter. McCabe can seek parole after serving 25 years in prison, the newspaper reported.

She was previously scheduled to face trial in August.

Branam did not immediately respond to requests for comment. An attorney for McCabe could not immediately be reached.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Sharon Bernstein and James Dalgleish)