Mom on trial in autistic son's death in NYC hotel

AP News
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Posted: Sep 10, 2014 8:18 PM
Mom on trial in autistic son's death in NYC hotel

NEW YORK (AP) — A multimillionaire mom killed her autistic 8-year-old son by forcing a toxic cocktail of painkillers and other drugs down his throat with a syringe in a luxury Manhattan hotel room, a prosecutor said as her murder trial opened Wednesday.

Prosecutors portray Gigi Jordan as a calm and calculating killer who poisoned her only child and then balanced her checkbook and transferred money out of his trust fund as he lay dead. Her defense says the pharmaceuticals entrepreneur was driven by fear and desperation to kill the boy and try to kill herself.

Jordan, 54, sat at the defense table as jurors heard the beginning of competing versions of a story her lawyers say she yearns to tell. Her son, Jude Mirra, was found dead of a drug overdose and Jordan was found incoherent in a $2,300-a-night suite strewn with over 5,800 prescription pills in February 2010.

Jordan plans to testify to explain "the tragedy of their collective life": a boy with a mysterious medical condition, and a mother who scoured the country for treatment for him but came to feel their safety was at risk and murder-suicide the only solution, defense attorney Allan Brenner said.

She believed that her life was in danger because of a financial conflict, and that without her, Jude would be vulnerable to a man she says abused him, her lawyers say. No abuse charges have been filed.

"She brought him the peace she couldn't bring him during his life. She kept him from the animals she couldn't keep from his door before then," he said. "And so she sits, forever brokenhearted."

But Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos told jurors that Jordan's concerns didn't justify killing her son.

"She had no right to take his life," Bogdanos said. "The only person he ever needed protection from was the one person he should have been able to rely on the most."

Jordan made an estimated $40 million from drug companies. But she left her career to care for a boy who repeatedly banged his head on the floor, couldn't speak and writhed in pain. He was initially considered autistic, though doctors later diagnosed immune-system abnormalities, post-traumatic stress disorder and other problems, according to her court filings.

Starting in late 2006, according to her defense, Jude told her — with gestures, his few words and, later, "facilitated communication" on a computer — that he had been sexually abused and tortured.

Various authorities spurned her requests to investigate, her lawyers said. Instead, police in Cheyenne, Wyoming, took her to a hospital where she was briefly held for a psychiatric evaluation in 2008.

As time progressed, Jordan started receiving ominous threats and was convinced that one of her ex-husbands wanted her dead to silence her about shady business dealings, her lawyers say. He has denied all her allegations and filed a slander suit against her.

Finally, she crushed pills into vodka, filled the syringe, climbed on top of Jude and pumped the concoction down his throat, Bogdanos said.

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Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @ jennpeltz.