jennifer caseyHow's this for twisted? A mom has admitted to police that she tried smothering her baby daughter in the hospital just to get attention from a nurse and now she's facing murder charges ... for allegedly smothering her son four years ago!

When Ashleigh Jennifer Casey's infant son died in 2009, cops thought it was an accident. The child had stopped breathing before, and Casey's grandmother, a registered nurse, had revived him. It was open and shut.

Until now.

Casey took her daughter to the hospital a number of times earlier this year, and doctors never found anything wrong. On one trip, she allegedly alerted a nurse that her daughter wasn't breathing, but the nurse quickly revived the child. That seemed suspicious to her doctor, who alerted cops.

They talked to Casey and the story came out. The Minnesota mom allegedly admitted to trying to smother her daughter in the hospital -- fortunately not succeeding -- and to having smothered her son four years ago! She allegedly had held a blanket over the boy's face a few times, but he'd always come back until that last, tragic time.

And until now ... she got away with it, was even able to have another child.

If you think about it, by allegedly trying to smother this girl, she may have saved the girl's life. It got her taken away from her mom, away from that risk.

Not to mention it got Casey on the hook for murder charges.

She sounds like a psychopath, right?

Maybe not. Because on top of the issue of trying a woman for a death that happened four years ago and was initially ruled as natural, there's this: Casey may be claiming she has Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome, a mental illness categorized by parents faking an illness in their child, usually for attention from medical professionals.

Essentially, if it's true, it means Casey smothered her kids to get attention.

Sick?

Yes.

But not just in the "who would do that?" sense. Munchausen by Proxy is considered an actual mental illness.

So sending a woman to prison for murdering her child and assaulting another (that's the charge for the attempted smothering of the little girl) isn't so easy.

This is where common sense and our kneejerk reaction to crimes that hurt kids collide. One part of me wants to see a woman who did this strung up by her toenails. The kids deserve that kind of justice.

But the other part of me -- the part that's guided by my brain, not my heart -- recognizes that mental illness is not fun and it's not something we can control. You can't expect a woman who is, quite literally, sick to have done anything different, as tragic as it sounds.

Something tells me that as this case plays out in the courts, we on the outside will be tested mightily on how we are able to put these two competing issues to bed together.

What do you think they should do with this mother if she's convicted? Should she go to prison?

 

Image via police