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The Boston Globe

Nation

Mother in killings won’t get part of estate

MINEOLA, N.Y. — A New York woman found not guilty because of mental disease in the 2008 drowning of her three children may not share in their $350,000 estate, despite never being convicted of a crime in their deaths, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The precedent-setting case sought to determine whether the state’s Son of Sam law, which seeks to ban criminals from profiting from their crimes, applied to Leatrice Brewer. According to Nassau County Surrogate’s Court Judge Edward McCarty, the answer is no — but the woman still shouldn’t get the money.

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‘‘The fact that the state cannot criminally punish an insane defendant is irrelevant to a determination of whether it is equitable for the killer to inherit from the victim,’’ McCarty said, referring to his decision as the Brewer Rule.

‘‘It is one thing to say that the state should not imprison one who was insane when she committed the murder. It is quite another to say that the insane murderer can financially profit from her crime,’’ the judge said.

Brewer, 33, was found not guilty because of mental disease in the killings of her three children inside their New Cassel apartment, and was sent to a psychiatric hospital.

Police said Brewer slashed her daughter Jewell Ward’s throat before drowning the child and her two younger brothers, believing she was saving them from the deadly effects of voodoo.

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