Officials said the conviction of Maggie Jean Wortman, 27, of Loleta is the state's first for voluntary manslaughter in a case where a woman was accused of passing a lethal dose of methamphetamine to her nursing infant through breast milk, The (Eureka) Times-Standard reported Tuesday.
Attorney M.C. Bruce asked Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Bruce Watson for leniency during a hearing Monday, saying probation was appropriate because Wortman has undergone treatment and isn't the same person she was when she was addicted to methamphetamine.
Watson said he thought she should serve prison time, noting it could be argued that the maximum 11-year sentence would be more appropriate because of the helplessness of the victim.
"The victim -- the baby -- was five weeks old, and it's certainly hard to get beyond the vulnerability of such a young infant," Watson said.
Wortman was arrested after a two-month investigation into the death of her son, Michael Phillip Acosta III, who was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital Nov. 21, 2010. Documents indicated emergency medical personnel reported rigor mortis was apparent in the child's extremities when they arrived at Wortman's home, The Times-Standard said. An autopsy determined Michael died of "methamphetamine toxicity."
Officials said Wortman is thought to have inadvertently passed the drug to her infant when she nursed him after she smoked the substance. Court documents indicated Wortman tested positive for methamphetamine while six months pregnant and admitted to law enforcement officials that, even though she was breastfeeding, she smoked the drug "a couple of times a week" for three weeks before the infant's death.