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January 17, 1996

People v Henderson: The Prosecution Responds

Author Affiliations

Civic Center Justice Building Bakersfield, Calif

JAMA. 1996;275(3):183. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530270023015

To the Editor.  —As the prosecutor in the case of the People of the State of California v Karen Henderson,1 discussed in a JAMA letter,2I believe I have a better understanding of the facts and the outcome of the case than the authors.Henderson was charged with second-degree murder and felony child endangerment stemming from her repeated ingestion of methamphetamine and her subsequent breast-feeding of her infant son.Contrary to the authors' statement, Henderson was convicted of child endangerment following the presentation of uncontradicted evidence that she snorted methamphetamine and subsequently breast-fed her baby despite repeated warnings not to do so. The murder charge, which resulted in a hung jury (11-1 for guilty), was based on three separate warnings to Henderson (two from a social worker and one from her own obstetrician-gynecologist) to discontinue her methamphetamine use if she was going to breast-feed her baby. Henderson acknowledged