Vegan couple's murder convictions upheld in infant son's death

Soy milk cartons on store shelf
(CBS/AP) - The Georgia Supreme Court announced Monday that it has upheld the murder convictions and life prison sentences given to an Atlanta vegan couple who were charged with allowing their baby to starve to death.

In 2007, a Fulton County jury convicted Jade Sanders and Lamont Thomas of malice murder, felony murder, and involuntary manslaughter in the 2004 death of their six-week-old son, Crown Shakur, who wasted away on a diet consisting of only soy milk and apple juice, police say.

Police searching the couple's apartment found a soy milk bottle, an apple juice bottle and a rancid-smelling baby bottle caked with debris. At the 2007 trial, prosecutors said the soy milk cartons in their apartment stated that the product wasn't to be used as a substitute for baby formula.

"No matter how many times they want to say, 'We're vegans, we're vegetarians,' that's not the issue in this case," prosecutor Chuck Boring said during the trial. "The child died because he was not fed. Period."

At trial, Saunders claimed she also fed her son breast milk and soy milk formula, reports the Atlantic Journal-Constitution

"I loved my son -- and I did not starve him," Jade Sanders said at her May 2007 sentencing hearing.

Prosecutors say Sanders and Thomas, who lived a vegan lifestyle and ate no animal products, were living in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood when Sanders gave birth to their son. The Journal-Constitution reports that the couple chose to have the delivery in a bathtub with no medical aid.

Authorities said infant Crown died six weeks later, emaciated and weighing less than four pounds. According to authorities, the child died of bronchopneumonia due to extreme malnourishment or starvation.

The high court's decision to upheld the convictions was unanimous.


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