Judge Dismisses Wragg Jury After Deadlock
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 21, 2005
WORTHING, ENGLAND--After 11 days of testimony and 11 hours of deliberation, a jury deadlocked Thursday over whether to convict Andrew Wragg of murder in the suffocation death of his 10-year-old son, Jacob.
At Lewes Crown Court in Sussex, Mrs. Justice Rafferty dismissed the jury of nine women and three men after they said they could not come to a unanimous verdict in the case. When the judge told the jury she would accept a 10-2 decision, they explained that such a decision would not be likely, even if they were given more time.
Wragg, 37, confessed to smothering the boy to death with a pillow last July 24, but claimed it was a "mercy killing" to keep the boy from suffering from Hunter syndrome.
Children who have Hunter syndrome usually experience mental and physical disabilities and seldom live past age 20. Jacob was blind, could not speak, and walked only on his tip-toes at the time of his death. Witnesses testified, however, that he was happy and active just before his father killed him.
During the trial, prosecutors said that Wragg plotted to end Jacob's life. Wragg's friends and his wife, Mary, testified that he told them he would use a pillow to end his son's life because he was frustrated that Jacob no longer recognized him.
Wragg, a military security specialist, claimed that he was under stress after returning from the Iraq war at the time. He also testified that his wife was in on the plot and that he would not have killed the child without her approval.
After dismissing the jury, Rafferty released Wragg on bail, with the same conditions as before his trial. He is still charged with murder and is not allowed to see his 7-year-old son or Mary Wragg, whom he divorced last year, without supervision.
Prosecutors did not indicate whether they will press for another trial. If they take no action on the murder charge, Wragg will automatically be convicted of manslaughter because of his own "diminished capacity" at the time of the killing.
Jacob's death is one of many cases of "altruistic filicide", in which a parent kills a child -- often one with disabilities -- claiming the death is "for the child's own good".
"Altruistic Filicide: Bioethics or Criminology?" by Dick Sobsey, Ed.D (Health Ethics Today - Nov. 2001)
"Jacob Wragg: Dad Admitted Killing Son Because of His Disability" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)