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Jury convicts mother of adding bleach to child's eyedrops

A Pierce County mother could spend the next 30 years in prison for putting bleach in her toddler's eyedrops, causing permanent injury.

Starting in 2011, the little girl was seen repeatedly by doctors at Harborview Medical Center and Seattle Children's Hospital. In the course of treating the child for a head injury, the case was referred for investigation of child abuse. The child's medications were examined and that's when lab results revealed tainted eyedrops.

"They discovered that the defendant had been bleaching her daughter's eyes with a solution from an eyedropper," said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.

The motive is not clear but at the time, Jennifer Mothershead had separated from her husband, according to Lindquist. He says friends gave Mothershead a place to stay because they felt sorry for her and her little girl.

"By torturing her child, she was able to get both financial support and sympathy for herself," said Lindquist.

A jury convicted Jennifer Mothershead of first degree assault of a child, including aggravating factors. The standard sentencing range is about eight to ten years, but Lindquist will ask for 30 to 50 years, based on the aggravating factors. Mothershead is scheduled for sentencing Nov. 15 at 1:30 p.m.

The case was so unusual that doctors in the Division of Opthamology at Seattle Children's Hospital published a paper in the Journal of American Association of Pediatric Opthalmology and Strabismus in April 2012, suggesting more vigilance detecting possible child abuse based on symptoms seen by eye doctors.

About the Author


Tim Haeck is a news reporter with KIRO Radio. While Tim is one of our go-to, no-nonsense reporters, he also has a sensationally dry sense of humor and it will surprise some to learn he is a weekend warrior.

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