In 2004, six-week-old Crown Shakur died of extreme malnourishment; when his parents were charged with his death, they claimed that they had the baby on a vegan diet and didn’t realize he was sick until it was too late. Jade Sanders and Larry Thomas were convicted of malice murder, felony murder, involuntary manslaughter, and cruelty to children, resulting in life sentences for both.
The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the sentence in an appeal trial that concluded this week. In the first trial, experts testified that the couple’s vegan diet did not kill the baby and prosecutors argued that the parents neglected their son and didn’t provide him with the necessary medical care when his health deteriorated. Crown was fed only apple juice and soy milk (which does NOT contain the nutrients an infant needs to survive); investigators said that the baby’s bottle was caked with milk residue and rancid.
According to prosecutor Chuck Boring: “No matter how many times they want to say, ‘We’re vegans, we’re vegetarians,’ that’s not the issue in this case … The child died because he was not fed. Period.”
To Sanders’ claims that she loved her baby and simply didn’t realize that his diet would make him sick, Jezebel’s Margaret Hartmann states: “…the crimes in this case go beyond sticking to a poorly thought out eating plan. Even if Sanders and Thomas didn’t know what to feed Crown, they should have sought medical attention before he got down to under four pounds.” She also points out the bad press this case could cause for other families who select a meat and dairy-free diet for their children: “Highlighting the couple’s dietary preferences unfairly suggests that all vegan parents may be putting their families in danger.”