Fla. mother on trial for infant's death

Aug. 31, 2010 at 2:57 PM
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OLANDO, Fla., Aug. 31 (UPI) -- A Florida woman on trial for manslaughter in the death of her 4-month-old daughter was not neglectful but was an overwhelmed single mother, her attorney says.

Lauren Gress was arrested in March 2009 after the Orange-Osceola Medical Examiner's Office determined her daughter, Brianna Morges-Gress, died of malnutrition and dehydration, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel reported.

Gress, 24, is on trial on charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child and child neglect, the newspaper said.

Brianna and her twin brother, Edwin Jr., weren't fed or handled for 14 hours before Brianna died, police said.

In his opening remarks, attorney Richard Hornsby said Gless was stressed young mother left alone with the children after the father was sentenced to a prison term.

Gress was not given adequate instruction on how to deal with premature babies, Hornsby said, and could not afford the formula needed to properly feed the children.

"Should she have asked for help? Yes. But she didn't feel she had anyone she could reach out to," Hornsby said.

In his opening statement Monday, Assistant State Attorney Ryan Vescio told jurors that Gress's "inaction" caused her daughter's death.

"Ultimately, this is all about decisions," Vescio said in asking jurors to find her guilty on all counts.

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