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(NECN: Eileen Curran) - The arrest of a Texas mother, charged with murdering her young son, has a lot of people, especially parents, wondering how a parent can kill their own child.
Julianne McCrery, 42, is charged in New Hampshire with the asphyxiation death of her six year old son, Camden Hughes. One of her lawyers says she has confessed to the crime and she wants the death penalty.
"This is both a crime and an illness," said Jack Levin, a criminalist and professor at Northeastern University in Boston. Levin believes McCrery intended a murder/suicide when she brought Camden to New Hampshire from Texas. He says, while the public reacts in horror to the death of the little boy, in her mind, McCrery felt she was being a good mother to her child.
"She had a perverse sense of love and loyalty," said Levin. "She didn't want to leave him behind in this miserable existence without any parents. She didn't want to stigmatize him by her own suicide and then when it came right down to it and take her own life, she couldn't do it."
Levin isn't surprised McCrery drove cross-country, he says it's a sign she was trying to escape her problems. He believes McCrery didn't want her problems to affect Camden anymore.
"I think she felt a deep sense of responsibility for what happened to her child, and I think it led her to decide he was better off dead."
Levin says there are warnings signs, but they're the same as those exhibited by millions of people who suffer from depression, but who never kill, so it is very hard to predict this will happen.