New Defense In Vegan Baby Death

The drug Topamax is held by a pharmacist at Maximart Pharmacy in Palo Alto, Calf. Qnexa is a combination of two older drugs: the amphetamine phentermine and topiramate, an anticonvulsant drug sold by Johnson & Johnson as Topamax. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma) AP Photo

A new lawyer stepped in with a defense that could turn around the case against two parents charged with manslaughter of their baby, who was allegedly malnourished.

Defense Attorney Ellis Rubin says a birth defect, and not the baby's diet of uncooked fruits and grains, is to blame for the death of a Florida couple's infant daughter Woyah.

Joseph and Lamoy Andressohn face manslaughter charges in the death of five-month-old Woyah, because the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner's Office concluded that the child died from malnutrition. Authorities say the baby was fed only wheat grass, coconut water and almond milk.

But Rubin says the autopsy found the child's thymus gland was almost nonexistent. He says that defect is responsible for the infant's low weight at the time of death. Rubin says the prosecution is "right out of the Twilight Zone."

Rubin is a well-known attorney in the Miami-Dade area, particularly for his recent work on behalf of same-sex marriage, which he supports. He said he has a pathologist lined up to testify that an infection likely caused Woyah's death.

Outside the courtroom, the Andressohns said there was no neglect, saying they loved their baby and their four other children.

A judge set a May 31st trial date, but next month will consider defense requests to allow the parents to resume contact with their other children.

Woyah weighed 6.99 pounds at death, about the same weight her mother told investigators the baby weighed when she was born at home. Doctors say a full-term baby should have weighed about 15 pounds at 5 months.

"That's because of the missing thymus gland," Rubin said.

Lamoy Andressohn also disputed the low weight claim, saying her daughter had five different, conflicting weights.

Prosecutors did not immediately return a call Thursday to respond to Rubin's assertions.

Two Florida Department of Children & Families caseworkers were fired in connection with the Andressohn case, when it was revealed the couple had been the subject of prior abuse complaints by neighbors. But Rubin says the DCF visits are indications his clients passed state muster. Their other four children were removed by the state after Woyah's death and placed with relatives.

"There was no neglect," Joseph Andressohn said. "We love our children, we know they're waiting for us."

The Andressohns denied officials' claims about Woyah's diet, saying she received "freshly made" foods whipped up in a food processor instead of food "by Gerber."

Along with holding to an uncooked food philosophy, investigators found the Andressohns had strong beliefs in home schooling, doctors only in a necessity, no immunizations and enemas for all.

The couple is currently free on $75,000 bond. If convicted, they face up to 30 years in prison.

  • Christine Lagorio

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