A 31-year-old woman from Fort Wayne, Ind., was found guilty last week for the slaying of her two-year-old son in a ritual to drive out demons.
After deliberating for five hours, a jury convicted Latisha Lawson of murder, neglect and battery charges – rejecting dense attorneys’ claim that Lawson was delusional and incapable of understanding right from wrong. The verdict was handed down Friday.
In November 2009, Lawson and another woman believed that their four children were possessed and allegedly forced them to ingest a mixture of vinegar and olive oil. The children vomited, but the women prevented Latisha’s son Jezaih from regurgitating the liquid until he stopped breathing, police reported.
Lawson kept Jezaih’s body in a plastic bag for almost a year, believing that he would be resurrected. She was later apprehended in December 2009.
"I went in and just asked God to bring him back," she said while crying. "He did it in the Bible. He did it with Lazarus. He did it with a child in the Bible."
On Friday, Lawson testified to the jury that she had fed the concoction to Jezaih in order to drive out a demon she called “Marzon.” Under cross examination, she admitted to placing a hand over Jezaih’s mouth but said she did not intend to harm him.
She also told jurors that she was convinced her son was possessed because she had no love for God during her pregnancy. Mental health experts who were asked to testify were divided over their opinion regarding her sanity.
However, prosecutors argued that no evidence shown at the four-day trial proved that Lawson did not understand her actions were wrong.
“Jezaih was an unwanted kid," Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Thomas Chaille insisted, according to The Journal Gazette. "This is a simple child abuse case. She still thinks she did the right thing. Scary."
Lawson is scheduled to be sentenced next month, and is expected to receive at least 45 years imprisonment.