LI mom indicted in kids' murder

Leatrice Brewer was not in court
March 7, 2008 11:06:01 AM PST
A grand jury has handed up a murder indictment against a Long Island mother suspected of drowning her three young children in a bathtub. Leatrice Brewer, 27, remained in the Nassau University Medical Center while her attorney was informed during a brief court proceeding that a grand jury had returned an indictment charging three counts each of first- and second-degree murder.

Nassau County Assistant District Attorney Mitchell Benson said the first-degree murder charges were filed because multiple victims were killed. The second-degree counts are the usual charges for any intentional killing.

Brewer was arraigned in her hospital bed on preliminary murder charges last week; the grand jury indictment is the next step in the legal process. Her defense attorney, Michelle Armstrong, is expected to enter a formal not guilty plea on the grand jury action at Brewer's next scheduled court appearance on Thursday.

Armstrong declined to discuss any potential defense and had no comment on Brewer's physical or psychological condition. It was not immediately clear whether Brewer would be well enough to attend that proceeding.

"I will say I am a mother as well and I am going to dedicate my efforts toward helping Ms. Brewer in this matter," Armstrong told reporters outside the courtroom.

Brewer was arrested Feb. 24 after calling 911 to report that she had killed her three young children by drowning them in the bathtub of their New Cassel apartment. Police said that after calling 911, Brewer inexplicably jumped out her second-floor apartment window. She injured her back and has been hospitalized ever since.

The children - Jewell Ward, 6, Michael Demesyeux, 5, and Innocent Demesyeux, 1, were found by police lying together in the same bed in their pajamas. Preliminary autopsy findings indicate the children were drowned, although Jewell also had multiple stab wounds, police said.

Relatives and friends of the woman, as well as county officials, have said she appeared to have psychological and substance abuse problems and had numerous interactions with police, the court system and Social Services workers. She had a Family Court appearance scheduled the day after the killings to discuss a visitation schedule with the father of her two youngest children.

The deaths have sparked an uproar in county Social Services agencies. A supervisor with 19 years experience was suspended without pay after county officials said he failed to properly follow up on a complaint the father of the two young boys made two days before the killings, indicating the children might be in danger.

Since the killings, the father of the little girl has announced plans to file a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the county.