Wendi Scott, accused of poisoning her young daughter to draw attention to herself, pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree child abuse. Her sentencing is set for May 8.
A Frederick woman accused of poisoning her young daughter to draw attention to herself pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree child abuse.
Wendi Scott, 33, told Frederick County Circuit Court Judge G. Edward Dwyer Jr. she realizes he could send her to prison for as much as 25 years.
The former Fort Detrick resident, wife and mother of two declined to make a statement before Dwyer accepted her plea and convicted her of abuse from May 1 to June 12, 2007.
He set sentencing for May 8.
Assistant State's Attorney Lindell K. Angel said investigators opened the case in June 2007 after doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center confronted Wendi and Sean Scott about suspected abuse of their daughter. She was 4 at the time.
During three years of inpatient and outpatient treatments at Walter Reed, the girl endured 72 procedures, including blood transfusions and bone marrow tests, Angel said.
Doctors found high levels of magnesium induced into her system. They found dangerously low red blood cell counts and an extremely high heart rate.
The child suffered severe diarrhea, vomiting and high fevers.
"Doctors had no medical explanation for her symptoms, including the loss of blood, which continued to be low after the transfusions," Angel said. "The massive blood loss put her at risk of death or serious illness."
Questioned by the FBI, Scott acknowledged using syringes to draw blood from her daughter so doctors would suspect she had leukemia, Angel said.
Scott would draw 8 to 10 cubic centimeters of blood at a time.
Angel contends Scott's behavior is consistent with Munchausen syndrome by proxy, in which a caregiver feigns or induces illness in another to generate sympathy.
Defense attorney Mary Drawbaugh acknowledged her client intentionally harmed her child during the six-week period in 2007. She conceded the state could prove Scott committed the most serious of those acts.
As part of the plea agreement, 14 other charges against Scott were dropped, including allegations of assault and reckless endangerment. Trial had been set to begin in May.
While awaiting her punishment, Dwyer ordered Scott to remain on home detention at the 133 W. Church St. residence she shares with her husband, a U.S. Army major assigned to Walter Reed.
The judge prohibited Scott from having contact with her children or entering Fort Detrick.
The couple's daughter and son, now 5 and about 3, are being kept by Wendi Scott's parents in Georgia.
At sentencing, Dwyer will consider the results of a presentencing investigation and a psychological evaluation.
Drawbaugh plans to call four witnesses and she will present evidence of the sickened child's "complicated medical condition."
FBI Special Agent Richard Wolf said the acting special agent in charge of the FBI's Baltimore office, Brian W. Lynch, commended the agencies involved in Scott's prosecution: the Frederick County State's Attorney's Office, the U.S. Army's criminal investigations division, the Provost Marshal's Office at Fort Detrick, Frederick County Child Protective Services and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
"The mutual cooperation and communication between all the agencies involved resulted in a finding of guilt and the safeguarding of the health and welfare of the children," Wolf said.
Frederick County State's Attorney Charlie Smith said he wants Scott to get the maximum sentence.
"I hope the judge puts her away for as long as possible, or at least long enough to allow the girl to grow up to adulthood before her mother is released," Smith said. "The facts of this case, the injury she caused to her own child, are so shocking it's difficult to fathom. It's inconceivable."