Mother Who Brutally Killed Her Baby Doesn't Want to Be Called 'Insane' Anymore

Sheryl Lynn MassipIn 1987, Sheryl Lynn Massip horrifically killed her infant son.

First, she threw him in front of an ongoing car, but when the car didn't hit him, she took him home and "bludgeoned him with a blunt object" until he died. She dumped him in a trash can and claimed he was kidnapped before finally confessing.

She claimed postpartum psychosis was the cause of her actions, and while she was convicted of murder, a judge set aside the verdict and declared her not guilty by reason of insanity.

It was a controversial ruling then, and it raised much debate about the rare, but extreme form of psychosis some women face after giving birth.

Perhaps even more controversial, however, is that now, she wants to be declared sane and released from the medical supervision she's been under since the incident.


Last week Massip (who has remarried and has taken the last name Smith) appeared before a jury and tried to explain what happened.

She told the jury the baby cried for up to 18 hours a day and vomited frequently, and she was exhausted and hearing voices.

"They said, 'Put him out of his misery.' It was over and over," she said at trial.

Massip thinks her current restrictions -- not being able to leave the state or move without permission and a home visit every three months -- are "too oppressive," her attorney told the Associated Press.

"She wants freedom from the system that restricts her," Grimes said. "She's always going to live with the guilt of killing her son. That prison will always be there and she will always be in it."

It's emotionally difficult to say yes, yes, this woman should be excused from this murder completely. And my first instinct was how dare she even ask to be able to walk away from it all.

But if we agree that postpartum psychosis is a very real and devastating medical condition -- like medical professionals tell us it is -- then we have to look at it the same way we might look at something like cancer, something over which she had absolutely no control.

It's difficult, because there's so much room for abuse of the diagnosis and for anyone who commits a murder to claim insanity, and there's no cut-and-dry way to determine if they really are or not.

But in the cases it's legitimate, the tragedy goes beyond the victim and we have to move beyond the blame.

So, if experts say she's no longer a threat to herself or others (which is questionable according to prosecutors), then it seems there's no other choice but to remove her restrictions.

Seeing someone never serve a day for such a brutal murder is hard, but it must be even harder for a mother to know she committed such a murder and had no ability to stop herself.

Do you think Sheryl Lynn Massip should have her mental status changed to sane?

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