The gavel has come down in a Spartanburg County court. A judge has handed over a 20 year prison sentence to a South Carolina mother, who is responsible for the drug overdose that took the life of her 6-week-old newborn, Alexis. Prosecutor, Barry Barnette, says 39-year-old Stephanie Greene hid the pregnancy from her primary care doctor, in order to continue being prescribed Morphine. The child endured a fatal drug overdose after being breastfed by Greene. She was charged with, and found guilty of, involuntary manslaughter, as well as unlawful conduct toward a child, and homicide by child abuse.
Greene, formerly a nurse, lost her license in 2004, when she tried to get drugs illegally. The state’s nursing board stated that she was acting irrational at work, and refused to take a drug test. Having knowledge of the healthcare structure, Greene was accused of “working the system” in order to gain access to the drug during her pregnancy. A careful review of Greene’s medical records showed that, after taking a positive home pregnancy test, Greene told her doctor she needed to see a gynecologist for birth control. She received prenatal care from the gynecologist, while never disclosing the pregnancy to her doctor. Greene has also incurred 38 counts of obtaining prescription medication through means of fraud.
The pathologist on the case, said the amount of Morphine in the child’s body, found in the toxicology report, could have been fatal for an adult, let alone a newborn. Baby Alexis was born a healthy seven pounds, two ounces, but gained only four ounces over the next month. Greene called 911 when she found the newborn unconscious in her South Carolina home, from a drug overdose that took her life just 46 days later. Reportedly, Greene sounded out-of-focus and groggy on the 911 call. The former nurse tried to give the baby CPR, but was unable to count, to keep up the pace. Greene has two children from a previous marriage, as well as a 7-year-old and 4-year-old from her current marriage. Police on scene said pain patches and pill bottles littered Greene’s nightstand, within reach of her other children.
There was no word from Greene’s husband, but lawyer, Rauch Wise, said he was “devastated.” Wise plans to appeal, contending there was no proof that the drug overdose, to the newborn, was a result of being breastfed. Wise believes Stephanie Greene was portrayed unfairly, as a “drug-seeking, drug-addict demon.” In 1998, Greene was involved in a car crash that fractured her skull and pelvis. She has also been diagnosed with the pain-causing condition, fibromyalgia. Wise conceded that Greene was deceptive in her ways, but argued that she suffered from chronic pain, and needed the medication to function.
Barnette felt a personal connection to this particular case. His wife, a licensed nurse, braved her own pregnancy issues back in 1989, causing her to miscarry. Barnette said his wife personally reviewed the case. He believes that, in this instance, a mother chose to use drugs at the expense of her child’s welfare. Greene will be eligible for parole after serving 16 years of her 20 year sentence. With the case closed for now, Barnette feels confident he did the right thing for the South Carolina newborn, whose life was taken by a drug overdose. There is no word, yet, on whether Barnette will pursue the prosecution of the other 38 charges Greene is facing.
by Melissa A. White-Jantzen
WAOW ABC 9