CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) — A jury on Wednesday found a South Texas woman guilty of capital murder in the drowning of her 6-year-old stepson at a Corpus Christi beach.
The Nueces County jury’s verdict against Laura Lee Day, 48, means an automatic sentence of imprisonment for life without parole. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty for the October drowning of Taylor Syring.
The conviction Wednesday comes 31 years after Day was found guilty in Southern California of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of her boyfriend.
Day told police she watched Taylor play in the surf at a North Padre Island beach and allowed him to take his life jacket off while he was in the shallow water. She said at some point he disappeared beneath the surf and surfaced face down. Police say Day brought her unconscious stepson to a hospital emergency room Oct. 5, and attempts to revive the boy failed.
In closing arguments, defense attorney Les Cassidy argued that the drowning was an accident that didn’t merit a capital murder conviction.
“There is remorse on her part, and there is shame. They want to eventually get on with their life and their family,” Cassidy said.
Prosecutors, however, alleged that Day was jealous of the child’s mother and let him wade into the surf without a life jacket knowing the boy needed it.
“There is no reasonable doubt that Laura Day murdered this little boy. She knew it’d be an easy way to kill him and it’d be an easy way to make it look like an accident,” said prosecutor Brittany Jensen.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Justice confirmed Friday that Laura Lee Feist, sharing the same birthdate with Laura Lee Day, was convicted in Orange County in 1982 of second-degree murder and sent to the juvenile detention system until she was 25.
The Los Angeles Times reported at the time that the then-17-year-old girl fatally shot her 21-year-old boyfriend in Laguna Beach after he told her he wanted to end the relationship. She then turned the gun on herself. She survived and was tried as an adult.
Court records in Maryland also show that Day, then using the married name Laura Lee Marsden, was convicted in 1993 of one count of bigamy for marrying a man while still married to another. Her six-month sentence was suspended.
In 1996, Laura Lee Bush was convicted in Maryland of insurance fraud after setting her car on fire and reporting it stolen to collect the insurance, according to court records. Bush was Day’s mother’s name, according to the Los Angeles Times account of her murder case, and the birth date on the case matches Day’s.
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