Jennifer Norris Sentenced To Nine Years For Son's Neglect
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 3, 2004
ANDERSON, INDIANA--A judge has sentenced Jennifer L. Norris to nine years in prison for neglecting to seek medical treatment or properly care for her 8-year-old son, Mark A. Norris II.
Norris pleaded guilty two months ago to the charge of criminal neglect of a dependent resulting in bodily injury.
The boy's body was found by firefighters on January 21, 2003 after the family's home in Elwood had been destroyed. Autopsy results confirmed that Mark, who used a wheelchair because of his cerebral palsy and had epilepsy, died of pneumonia at least one day before the fire. Toxicology tests found evidence that he was malnourished and had not been given prescription medications needed to treat his seizures.
Investigators had suspected that the fire was set deliberately to cover up Mark's death, but no evidence has been found for them to charge Ms. Norris with arson.
"I'm begging for your mercy," Norris told Judge Dennis Carroll during a hearing Monday.
"I don't blame anyone but me for what happened to my son."
According to the Associated Press, Norris' defenders said she was overwhelmed by Mark's disabilities, and could not afford the 24-hour help he needed.
"She was too poor to pay for a nurse, too poor to buy gasoline to transport her son and too poor to pay attention," said Defense attorney Shawn Ramsey.
Judge Carroll told Norris that he realized she could have used more help, but that she "made a series of wrong choices both morally and legally." The judge pointed out that, despite the boy's deteriorating medical condition, Mark had not been taken to a doctor for the six months prior to his death.
Mike Warrum, the state Division of Family and Children social worker who was assigned to Mark's case, also faces charges of neglect.
"The Death of Mark A. Norris, Jr: Was fire a cover-up for his death?" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)