Old Wives' Tales
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Toxin du jour
Claim: Petition seeks to ensure justice is done in the case of a mother who killed her baby in a microwave.
Origins: This appeal to force the administration of justice in the case of a mother who'd microwaved her baby to death began appearing in inboxes in July 2007. Sadly, the gist of the
China Arnold of Dayton, Ohio, has been charged with aggravated murder for the
The mother claims she has no knowledge of what befell her daughter, saying that she had been drunk that night (having gone out drinking with the baby's father earlier in the evening), gave the child a bottle, then fell asleep on the couch with the infant on her chest. The first attempt to prosecute China Arnold for her daughter's death ended in February 2008 with the judge's declaring a mistrial just as the case was on the verge of going to the jury.
While the death being reported on is accurate, a petition meant to ensure the person responsible is appropriately punished isn't a good idea. First, despite the missive's "WE NEED
Yet the strongest argument against the petition has to do with its premise (i.e., that whoever killed the infant should be "severly punished")
Another "microwaved baby" case was reported in the news in May 2007 involving Joshua Mauldin of Warren, Arkansas, who microwaved his two-month-old daughter Ana (after first punching her, then placing her in a hotel safe, then a refrigerator). The child suffered burns to her face (for which she received skin grafts) and eventually had to have part of one ear amputated, but was otherwise relatively unharmed. She now lives with relatives. In March 2008, Joshua Mauldin was found guilty of felony injury to a child and sentenced to
There had been a previous murder of a child by this method: In December 2000, Elizabeth Renee Otte was sentenced to five years in prison for microwaving her one-month-old baby to death in September 1999.
While each of these horrific incidents bears resemblance to the well-traveled legend about a babysitter who while in a drugged state mistook the baby for a turkey and put the wrong item in the oven, lore and reality differ in one key regard: motive. In the legend, the babysitter's act was unintentional, the result being so out of touch with reality that she perceived the infant as something else. The real-life microwavings of babies have been the deliberate acts of parents (some of whom afterwards attempted to mount "I didn't know what I was doing" defenses to the criminal charges laid against them).
Barbara "deadly imaginings" Mikkelson
Update: In a retrial concluded on
Last updated: 29 August 2008
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