Mum gave autistic son fatal overdose ‘to protect him’
A multimillionaire socialite who fed her eight-year-old son a fatal cocktail of drugs and alcohol has gone on trial in New York for his murder.
Pharmaceuticals entrepreneur Gigi Jordan, 54, crushed multiple pills and stirred them into orange juice and vodka, before forcibly pumping the mixture down her son Jude Mirra's throat with a syringe, in a $2,300-per-night room at Manhattan's Peninsula Hotel.
Police and security staff burst into the suite at the hotel on Fifth Avenue in February 2005, to find Ms Jordan incoherent on the floor beside the boy's body. He was declared dead of a drug overdose.
On the carpet were an empty bottle of Grey Goose vodka and more than 5,800 prescription pills, including hundreds of Xanax and Ambien tablets.
Before checking into the hotel, Ms Jordan had moved $8m from her savings to her current account.
As her son lay dead, she emailed her financial adviser to transfer $125,000 from his trust fund to her own account. She also sent an email to her aunt, who contacted police.
Prosecutors say Ms Jordan killed Jude to be free of the burden of his special needs.
It took her son several hours to die, said Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos, adding: "The only person he ever needed protection from was the one person he should have been able to rely on the most."
Ms Jordan admits she administered her son's overdose before attempting to take her own life, but her defence team claims she was motivated not by selfishness, but by fear and desperation.
Jude was originally diagnosed with autism, but Ms Jordan claims doctors later said he was suffering instead from conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder.
After searching in vain for effective treatments, and believing that both their lives were in danger, Ms Jordan decided her only escape from their plight was a murder-suicide, said her lawyer Allan Brenner.
"She brought him the peace she couldn't bring him during his life. She kept him from the animals she couldn't keep from his door before then," Mr Brenner told jurors.
He said to reporters outside the court: "You cannot divorce the act from what was going on through my client's mind, the pressures that were being brought to bear on her, the decisions that she took based on those pressures. That's the essence of my defence."
But Mr Bogdanos told the jury that Ms Jordan was very "business-like" in her approach to ending a life, bringing pills, a pill crusher and a syringe to the Peninsula Hotel.
Ms Jordan made an estimated $40m fortune from the pharmaceutical business she ran with her first husband, Raymond Mirra, but abandoned her career to become a full-time carer for her son, who was mute and suffered persistent, agonising pain.
Beginning in 2006, she reportedly became convinced that Jude had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of his biological father, her second husband, Bulgarian yoga instructor Emil Tzekov.
That abuse, she said, sparked a catatonic psychosis that resembled autism. She claimed Jude had communicated the accusations to her using a BlackBerry, gestures and some rudimentary words.
Ms Jordan also came to believe that Mr Mirra was plotting to have her killed to cover up dubious business activities. Were she to die, she feared Jude would end up back in Mr Tzekov's custody.
"I was trapped in a corner," she told the New York Daily News in 2012. "I was a mother trying to protect my young, my beautiful, my abused son from further sexual torture."
Neither Mr Mirra nor Mr Tzekov has ever been charged with a crime. Mr Tzekov denies the alleged abuse, while Mr Mirra last year filed a lawsuit against Ms Jordan for slander.
Ms Jordan faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder. The trial continues.