A jury in Meriden, Ct., found a mother guilty of contributing to her 12-year-old son’s suicide. The Hartford Courant says the “image of a troubled boy living in a cluttered and filthy home, so neglected there was no place for him to wash, sleep, or eat” led to a conviction of Judith Scruggs, 52, on a charge of risk of injury to a minor. She will be sentenced Nov. 20, the day her son J. Daniel would have turned 14.
“This case to us wasn’t about how bad a mother she was or how bad she could have been,” Thomas Diaz, the jury foreman, told the Courant. “It was about a young child who wasn’t given an opportunity to live a healthy life who, in the end, had his life tragically cut short.”
J. Daniel was bullied at school; his death in January 2002 fueled the formation of an anti-bullying advocacy group and prompted legislators to require school districts to create a system for reporting bullying. Jurors said they couldn’t ignore testimony about his home life, which included nights he spent surrounded by knives sleeping in his closet, where he ultimately hanged himself with a necktie. “We believed the house was an unhealthy atmosphere for any child,” Diaz said. “The fact that he had knives – and we’re talking about pretty big knives – and he slept with them stuck out to everybody.”