UK & World News
Killer Mum Claims Cash After 'Voodoo' Deaths
A mentally disturbed mother who drowned her three young children in a bathtub is going to court to ask a judge for a portion of their $350,000 (£218,000) estate.
Leatrice Brewer drowned her three children - ages one, five and six - believing she was saving them from what she saw as the deadly effects of voodoo.
After the killings she tried to commit suicide twice.
The 33-year-old New York woman was found not guilty of the murders because of mental disease or defect.
Her attorneys now say she should not be subject to laws that bar convicts from profiting from their crimes.
Nassau County Surrogate's Court Judge Edward McCarty ruled on Thursday that Brewer will be taken from an upstate psychiatric facility to testify about her request next month.
Although the case would establish a precedent in New York if Brewer succeeds, she is not expected to see any money because of the $1.2m (£747,000) cost of the psychiatric counselling and other services she has received since her arrest, attorneys said.
Brewer admitted she drowned the children in the bathtub of her apartment in New Cassel, on Long Island about 20 miles east of New York City, in February 2008.
She later placed the children's bodies on a bed and tried to kill herself by swallowing a concoction of household cleaning chemicals.
When that suicide bid failed, she jumped from her second-storey window.
Psychiatrists determined she suffered a major depressive disorder and she believed she killed the children to protect them.
Brewer is being kept at a state psychiatric hospital until doctors determine she is no longer mentally ill.
The case drew attention to Nassau County's social services agency, whose caseworkers visited Brewer's apartment two days before the killings and found no one home but neglected to schedule an immediate follow-up visit.
Two social workers were suspended over the case.
Lawsuits against the county filed by the father of Brewer's one-year-old son, Innocent Demesyeux, and five-year-old son, Michael Demesyeux, were settled for $250,000.
A lawsuit filed by the father of Brewer's six-year-old daughter, Jewell Ward, was recently settled for $100,000.