June 03, 2011 12:33 PM EDT (Updated: June 03, 2011 12:48 PM EDT)
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The Casey Anthony trial has only been on the minds and airwaves of America for the last three year. In the event you've been living in a convent run by nuns with rulers that make you watch Oprah, Anthony has been charged with the murder of her 2-year old daughter Caylee in 2008.
Although she's not the first person to kill their child, committing kindercide in the process, she's not the last and over the years, there have been several cases of women doing some harm to those that were younger than they were. Here are four women that have made history for the crimes they've committed in the last century for either killing their children or causing harm to children.
1. Susan Smith
Susan Smith is best remembered for crying wolf, first telling the media and police in South Carolina that her two children were kidnapped by an African-American before eventually being arrested and convicted on July 22, 1995 of murdering her two sons, 3-year-old Michael Daniel Smith (born October 10, 1991) and 14-month-old Alexander Tyler Smith (born August 5, 1993). The case gained worldwide attention shortly after it developed, due to Smith's claims. She later claimed that she suffered from mental health issues that impaired her judgment. She is serving a life sentence in South Carolina's Leath Correctional Institution, according to the South Carolina Department of Corrections. Smith will be eligible for parole on November 4, 2024, after serving a minimum of thirty years. It was disclosed in her trial that Smith was molested in her teens by her stepfather, who admitted that he had molested Smith when she was a teenager and had consensual sex with her as an adult. Her biological father committed suicide when she was 6 years old and she very rarely had a stable home life. At 13, she attempted suicide and affer graduating from high school in 1989, she made a second attempt. At one time she was incarcerated in the Administrative Segregation Unit in the Women's Correctional Center in Columbia, South Carolina but while she has been in prison, two guards have been punished for having sex with Smith. Because of this she was moved to a prison in Greenwood where she is currently held and in 2003 she placed a personal ad at WriteAPrisoner.com which has since been retracted.
2. Pam Smart
Pamela Smart was a high school teacher that slept with one of her students in exchange for killing her husband in 1990. She is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the murder accomplice to first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and witness tampering in New Hampshire. Smart was convicted for conspiring with her 15-year-old lover, William Flynn and three friends of Flynn's to kill her 24-year-old husband, Gregory Smart in Derry, New Hampshire in 1990. Assistant Attorney General Diane Nicolosi portrayed the teenagers as naive victims of an "evil woman bent on murder." The prosecution portrayed Pamela Smart as the cold-blooded mastermind who controlled her young lover.
Nicolosi claimed that Smart seduced Flynn to get him to murder her husband, so that she could avoid an expensive divorce and benefit from a $140,000 life insurance policy. In her testimony, Smart acknowledged that she had had an affair with the teenager, but claimed that the murder of her husband was solely the doing of Flynn and his friends, born as a reaction to her telling Flynn that she wished to end their relationship and repair her marriage. She insisted that she neither participated in the murder plot nor had any foreknowledge of it. Though Flynn claimed he had fallen in love with Smart when he first met her, Cecilia Pierce was to testify at trial that Smart and Flynn were originally just friends. She first noticed a change around February, when Smart confessed to Pierce that she "loved Bill." Flynn claims that he was a virgin before he had sex with Pamela Smart. Bill Flynn had a girlfriend at the same time he was in a relationship with Pamela Smart. She was found guilty on March 22, 1991 in the
Rockingham County Superior Court after a 14-day trial, largely as a result of the testimony of her conspirators and secretly-taped conversations in which Smart appeared to contradict her claims of having wanted to reconcile with her husband and of having no knowledge of the boys' plot. Smart argued that the media had influenced her trial and conviction. She could have been charged with capital murder but the prosecution decided against it. Later that day she was given a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility for parole. The trial of Pamela Smart was the first fully televised case in the United States watched by millions of people on live television.
Smart is incarcerated at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women, Westchester County, in New York State, where she is serving a life sentence. Her Department Identification Number (DIN) number is #93G0356. Not only is she the only person in New York incarcerated under an interstate compact between New York and New Hampshire, but she is also the only one serving a sentence of life without parole. Smart was transferred to Bedford Hills, a maximum security facility, from the New Hampshire State Prison for Women in Goffstown, New Hampshire in 1993. State officials stated that she was transferred because New Hampshire did not have a secure enough facility to house her, the higher security necessary due to the high-profile nature of her case. While she hasn't admitted responsibility for her crimes, Smart has conceded that if she had not had an affair with Flynn, Gregg Smart would still be alive.
In prison, Smart, who graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor's degree in communications, has spent her time tutoring other inmates and has completed two masters degrees, in literature and legal studies, which were paid for with private funds from Mercy College. Smart became a member of the National Organization for Women campaigning for rights for women in prison. In October 1996, Smart was severely beaten by inmates, resulting in a metal plate being placed in the left side of her face. The two inmates beat her after accusing her of snitching on them about their prison relationship. Convicted of second-degree assault in an attack at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, the two inmates were transferred to separate prisons. In 2003, after pictures of a scantily-clad Smart were published in the National Enquirer. She was placed in solitary confinement. Smart sued, claiming the punishment was unfair treatment but her lawsuit was dismissed. In 2004, Smart and a fellow inmate sued officials of Bedford Hills, claiming sexual harassment and also sexual assault by a guard, whom she also claimed coerced her into posing for the suggestive pictures published of her in 2003. In thelawsuit, Smart claims that after the photos appeared in the tabloid, she was forced to spend two months in a 23-hour-a-day lockdown after filing the complaint. Smart also spends her time pondering the loss of a life outside of prison and still maintains hope of having children. Pamela Smart appeared on Oprah Friday October 22, 2010 in an interview with Lisa Lu. On the talk show, Smart claimed she was innocent and believes that her sentence for life in prison is too harsh. In an interview with ABC News, Smart indicated she is afraid of growing old and dying in prison and would rather have had the death penalty than life.
Television has taken her trial and eventual convicition and used them as storylines. A couple of examples are a profile on "Snapped," a television series on the Oxygen Network that profiles female criminals and murderers. The FOX cartoon "Family Guy" had an episode entitled "Fast Times at Buddy Cianci, Jr. High" in which Chris Griffin had a crush on his teacher and she wanted him to kill her husband. The crime series "American Justice" played an episode on the case "Crime of Passion: The Pamela Smart Story". And yes, even "Law & Order has gotten into the act, with the episode "Renunciation" being based on the Pamela Smart case.
3. Mary Kay Letourneau.
You've heard the song, "Hot For Teacher?" If that were the case, Mary Kay Letourneau would have easily been its patron saint. She was the suburban Seattle schoolteacher who was imprisoned from 1997 to 2004 for having sexual intercourse with her 13-year-old student, Vili Fualaau. She gave birth to two of Fualaau's children while incarcerated. After her release from prison in 2004, Letourneau married Fualaau and took his name. Letourneau was arrested in March 1997 after her husband, Steve Letourneau, notified the police. During the trial she was examined and diagnosed with manic depression. Letourneau pled guilty and was convicted of two counts of second-degree child rape. She was sentenced to six months in the county jail and three years of treatment. At that time she was not required to register as a sex offender. As part of her plea bargain, Letourneau agreed to avoid any further contact with Bumper Repair Wakefield Fualaau.
Appearantly, she didn't get the message. Two weeks after her release from her jail, police found Letourneau while she was having sexual relations with Fualaau in her car. She was arrested for violating the terms of her parole and the police found $6200 in cash and her passport inside her car. As a result, Letourneau was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison. In October 1998, while serving her sentence, Letourneau gave birth to her second daughter by Fualaau. Letourneau gave birth to two children with Fualaau, giving her a total of six children (four with her first husband). Her first daughter with Fualaau (who was 12 years old at the time of conception), Audrey, was born in 1997 while Letourneau was out of jail on bail. Daughter Georgia Alexis was conceived while Letourneau was on probation and was born in 1998 while Letourneau was incarcerated. Because of her celebrity status Letourneau was unpopular with other inmates, "sassed guards and balked at work" and spent "18 of her first 24 months" in solitary confinement. The family sued the Highline School District and the city of Des Moines, Washington in 2002, for emotional suffering, lost wages and the costs of rearing his two children, claiming the school and the Des Moines Police Department had failed to protect him from Letourneau. During the ten week trial, defense attorneys Anne Bremner, representing the Des Moines Police Department and Michael Patterson, representing the Highline School District, prevailed and no damages were awarded.
Letourneau was released on a community placement program on August 4, 2004. The following day she registered with the King County Sheriff's Office as a Level 2 sex offender. After her release from prison in 2004, Fualaau, then age 21, filed a motion in court, requesting a reversal of the no-contact order against Letourneau. Several days later, the court granted the request. Letourneau and Fualaau were married on May 20, 2005 in the Seattle suburb of Woodinville in a ceremony at the Columbia Winery. Exclusive access to the wedding was given to the television show "Entertainment Tonight" and photographs were released through other media outlets. Letourneau has said that she would like to have another child and return to the teaching profession and indicated that by law she is permitted to teach at private schools and community colleges. Since their marriage, Letourneau and Fualaau have hosted three "Hot for Teacher Night" promotions at a Seattle night club with Fualaau serving as the disc jockey and Letourneau as host. During an "Inside Edition" interview Fualaau said, "I'm not a victim. I'm not ashamed of being a father. I'm not ashamed of being in love with Mary Kay." Attorney Anne Bremner, who met Letourneau in 2002 during Fualaau's civil suit, said that Letourneau considered her affair with Fualaau to be "eternal and endless." According to Bremmer, "Nothing could have kept the two of them apart."
4. Andrea Yates
Andrea Yates was a resident of Houston, Texas but her claim to fame (or infamy) is drowning her five young children on June 20, 2001 by drowning them in the bathtub in her house. She had been suffering for years with very severe postpartum depression and psychosis. Her case placed the M'Naghten Rules, which is a legal test for sanity, under close public scrutiny in the United States. It basically asks if a person understands right from wrong.
She was convicted of capital murder in a Houston courtroom in 2002 and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years. That was later overturned on appeal and was found not guilty by reason of insanity on July 26, 2006 and was eventually committed by the court to the North Texas State Hospital, Vernon Campus, a high-security mental health facility in Vernon, Texas, near Wichita Falls, where she received medical treatment and was a roommate of Dena Schlosser, another woman who committed filicide by killing her infant daughter. In January 2007, Yates was moved to a low security state mental hospital in Kerrville, Texas, near San Antonio.
Here's my question. We have four women with everything in front of them. Two of them, Smart and LeTourneau, were educators. They have all spent time in the slammer with one exception. Letourneau is out and free, while the other three sit and languish in a jail cell or hospital that may very well be their own prison, so to speak. Could any of these women have been bipolar? It's plausible. Then again, I'm not a medical expert or a doctor. The Casey Anthony trial may or may not bring that subject up. They all have one thing in common and that thing is that they've done some harm that had resulted in death of the people they were supposed to protect.
While Smart and Letourneau didn't kill anyone per se, the blood is on their hands. Could Casey Anthony join that sorority of women? If she's found guilty, she more than likely will. The trial still goes on and is expected to run through at the very least July. It's something for Anthony to ponder as she sits in court fighting for her life that the state of Florida wants to take away. This is going to get very interesting.
(Photo of Susan Smith courtesy South Carolina Department of Corrections; photo of Pam Smart courtesy New York State Department of Corrections and ABC News; photo of Mary Kay Letourneau courtesy KOMO-TV, Seattle; photo of Andrea Yeats courtesy the Houston Chronicle and KPRC-TV Houston)
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