Authorities have lost an untested blood sample taken from a multimillionaire mother charged with the murder of her autistic son, clouding a significant question in the case: whether she also tried to kill herself with a drug overdose in their luxury hotel room.
Manhattan prosecutors told defense lawyers in a letter last week that Gigi Jordan's blood sample "cannot be found" at Bellevue Hospital, where it was taken and stored after her February 2010 arrest. It lingered untested as the two sides debated scientific and legal issues surrounding the prospect of testing the small sample for various prescription drugs.
Jordan's 8-year-old son, Jude Mirra, was found dead, and she was found incoherent in a suite strewn with prescription pills. Jordan says she had tried to take her life after killing its focus, her son, to spare him from what she says were predatory adults in his life. Prosecutors have questioned whether Jordan, a former pharmaceuticals executive and nurse, truly tried to take a fatal overdose.
Jordan lawyer Ronald Kuby said he might now try to bar prosecutors from broaching such questions, since the blood can't be tested to answer them.
Its loss "cannot be rewarded by allowing them to continue making that argument," Kuby said. Other evidence _ including her physical condition when found and a computerized note she left saying she planned on "taking our lives" _ point to a suicide attempt, he said.
Representatives for Bellevue, which had control of the blood sample after prosecutors asked the hospital to keep it, didn't immediately return a telephone call Monday evening. Erin Duggan, Manhattan district attorney's office communications chief, said "the appropriate place to address issues relating to this case is in court."
Jordan's series of lawyers have long raised concerns about how the blood sample would be tested. One of her previous lawyers recently consented to have it tested, but Kuby halted that plan last month, calling for more information.
Jordan, 50, is due in court Aug. 11, when a judge may rule on her request to be released to house arrest on $6 million in cash bail and bond.
She is planning an unusual defense _ that she believed she was justified in killing her son to protect him. She's invoking the concept of "altruistic filicide," or child-killing by parents convinced they're acting in the child's best interest.
Jordan made a fortune in the pharmaceuticals business before leaving it to care for her son. She roamed the country consulting expert after expert about Jude.
Jude didn't speak, but he began typing on a computer in late 2007 that he had been tortured by adults close to him, according to Jordan's lawyers. She consulted a child psychiatrist who found "multiple lines of evidence" of abuse, according to her court filings.
A roster of authorities refused to investigate, she says; indeed, officials in Wyoming had her briefly held for a psychiatric evaluation in March 2008 after she said members of a devil-worshipping cult were violently abusing the boy. She began to fear that another person in her life was seeking to have her killed or institutionalized to gain control of her son and her money, her filings say.
New York laws allow defendants to say they were coerced by an imminent threat of physical harm to themselves or someone else, or that they were justified in using force to prevent that harm. Jordan's lawyers say she was "reasonably fearful" in feeling she was killing Jude for his own safety.
Prosecutors call the killing a premeditated and conscious decision.
Her argument is "a convoluted attempt to provide a defense in the face of overwhelming evidence," assistant district attorney Kerry O'Connell wrote in a court filing Monday. "She intentionally killed her son without any real or imminent threat."
Jordan has been held without bail since her arrest. The judge turned down a $5 million bail and house arrest proposal from her last year.
Her new proposal is modeled on the bail package another judge granted former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn, before prosecutors agreed July 1 to let him be free without bail in his sexual assault case. Prosecutors are objecting to Jordan's request.
Jennifer Peltz can be reached at http://twitter.com/jennpeltz.