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Mignano Cleared Of Murder Charge In Daughter's Death
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 15, 2004

WINCHESTER, TENNESSEE--Ten days after a Franklin County grand jury charged Margaret Mignano with killing her teenage daughter, the district attorney dropped the charges.

According to the Associated Press, Franklin County District Attorney Mike Taylor withdrew the charges after follow-up autopsy results showed 15-year-old Ashley Mignano did not have lethal levels of the anti-convulsant drug Phenobarbital in her blood when she died of a heart attack on July 4.

Ashley, who had cerebral palsy and epilepsy, used a ventilator to breathe.

The original autopsy report, signed by Nashville forensic pathologist Dr. Charles Harlan, indicated that Ashley had more than twice the prescribed dosage of Phenobarbital in her blood. Based on those results, investigators suspected her mother of crushing up the lethal amount of the drug and feeding it to her daughter through her feeding tube.

On November 3, a grand jury indicted Mignano, 50, with one count of first-degree murder.

Taylor said new results from two independent labs show a "therapeutic level rather than a toxic level of Phenobarbital" in Ashley's blood.

"I didn't feel the state could proceed with the prosecution of this case," Taylor said.

Dr. Harlan is currently defending his medical license against state charges of misdiagnosing causes of death in other cases and of destroying evidence in criminal investigations.

Mignano told reporters that the dismissal of charges was the end of her second worst nightmare. Her worst was the death of her daughter.

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