Mother who documented son's illness charged with his murder

Lacey Spears, 28, is seen in an undated photo from the Westchester County District Attorney's Office in Westchester, New York. REUTERS/Westchester County District Attorney's Office/Handout via Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A single mother in New York state who documented the medical struggles of her 5-year-old son on social media has been charged with murdering him by putting a toxic dose of sodium in his feeding tube.

Lacey Spears, 26, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to poisoning her son, Garnett, according to a statement from Westchester County prosecutors. She is being held in the county jail.

Spears has been charged with depraved murder and manslaughter, and faces up to 25 years to life in prison, prosecutors said.

Garnett, who was hospitalized hundreds of times and underwent invasive surgical procedures, died on Jan 23, according to prosecutors.

His death was ruled a homicide in April.

Investigators are looking into the possibility that Garnett was born healthy and that his mother had a disorder known as "Munchausen syndrome by proxy," in which a parent might harm his or her child to win sympathy, according to someone familiar with the case who requested anonymity.

"Everything that happened to him was a result of a conscious act by his mother," the source said.

A lawyer for Spears did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)