Long Island woman Veronica Cirella pleaded not guilty to second degree murder after feeding her 8-year-old disabled daughter, Julie, M&M’s with traces of peanut in it – which she was allergic too.
Julie, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a baby and was confined to a wheelchair, suffered from an allergic reaction and died shortly after. She was supposed to be the flower girl at a cousin’s wedding.
Last summer, at the time of the incident, authorities say that after realizing what she had done, Veronica Cirella tried to counter the effects of the peanuts by giving her daughter liquid Benadryl. Unfortunately, Cirella found Julie dead the next day and subsequently tried to kill herself with an electrical cord.
Both mother and daughter were found by her mother-in-law, Doloros Cirella, with a suicide note admitting fault and citing problems with her estranged husband:
‘I could not risk losing my daughter. I could not risk her being mistreated if he killed me. No one could take care of her the way I could. I had to give her a better life, which was to give her back to heaven. She does not deserve to be in pain whatsoever. I don’t mind going to hell because I took my life to give her a better life which is in heaven where she can be free.’
Today Cirella, who was previously charged with manslaughter, pleaded not guilty after her charges were upped to second degree murder.
According to CBS News, “Attorney William Keahon implored the Nassau County judge to release his client on bail, contending an autopsy has failed to determine a cause of death.” But the Nassau County judge denied it, saying she should be held without bail.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice issued a statement to the grand jury after hearing from Cirella and several witnesses,
“After hearing from many witnesses and Ms. Cirella herself, the grand jury returned an indictment for murder in the second degree. Every child’s death arouses strong emotions, but prosecutors must evaluate the evidence objectively, and regardless of how difficult the defendant perceived her circumstances to be, taking her daughter’s life was unjustified.”
This is such a tragedy.