Woman will spend up to 15 years in prison for death of 7-month-old son

MORGANTOWN — A pregnant woman will spend time in prison after her neglect led to the death of her first child.
Through tears, Julie Porreca, 20, told Judge Susan Tucker she did the best she could with her first child, Benjamin. The 7-month-old died Sept. 4, 2016. Porreca and then-boyfriend Edward Lee, 41, both pleaded guilty to child neglect resulting in death.
“I loved him more than anything in this world,” Porreca said.
She will spend three-15 years in prison. Lee was given the same sentence. He must also register on the state’s child abuser registry for 30 years following his release. Both were sentenced in Monongalia County Circuit Court on Wednesday.
Attorney Stephanie Nethken asked the court for an alternative sentence. She pointed to her client’s history of successfully showing up to Day Report while out on bond and lack of criminal history as reasons Porreca would be a successful candidate.
She said her client wanted to start over and give her new baby the life Benjamin never had.
Nethken also noted it wasn’t really known why Benjamin died.
Prosecutor Perri DeChristopher said while the exact cause of death might not be known, some things are known. Such as the fact the toxicology screen showed Trazodone in his system — an adult sedative and anti-depressant prescription drug. Porreca confirmed the drug was not prescribed to her child when Tucker asked.
It’s also known Porreca did not seek medical attention for her child despite her statement to police the child had trouble breathing the night before and the fact Porreca said she performed chest compressions, DeChristopher said.
The autopsy also showed the baby had pneumonia, possibly caused by complications from being given Trazodone.
DeChristopher asked Tucker to impose the given sentence of three-15 years in prison.
Twitter @WillDean_DP

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