By ASHLEY HELMS
Manuela Maria Morgado, the Mamaroneck mother accused of killing her 4-year-old son last year, appeared in Westchester County Supreme Court on Dec. 12, but an official trial date still has not been set and the case was continued until Jan. 16.
Morgado, of 1035 E. Boston Post Road, pled not guilty to second-degree murder charges on Dec. 18, 2012 in the death of her son, Jason Reish. According to court documents, both the defense and prosecution teams were ready for trial as of April 18 of this year, but Morgado’s case has been adjourned since then while state and defense experts evaluate her psychiatric state. Morgado waived her right to appear in court on Jan. 16. She will be represented, as she has been since, by Saad Siddiqui, her legal aid attorney.Morgado faces up to 25 years
Lucian Chalfen, spokesper-son for the county District At-torney’s office, said Mor-gado’s Jan. 16 appearance will be before Supreme Court Judge Richard Molea, Assistant Dis-trict Attorney Christine Hat-field and Sidduqui to conference regarding the results of Morgado’s mental health evaluation. Her past eight appearances in Supreme Court since April have been regarding the status of her psychiatric evaluation.
“They may very well have a psychiatric side to the trial,” Chalfen said.
At a felony hearing on Oct. 18, 2012, Village of Mam-aroneck Police Detective Ber-nard McNally described the scene in Jason’s bedroom when he and his partner, Detective Edgar Prieto, arrived at Morgado’s home the day Jason Reish died.
Jason “appeared lifeless,” Mc-Nally said, was blue and rigor mortis had set in on one of his arms. A helium tank was on the bed, leaning against the headboard, and a plastic tube was attached to the tank with a mask on the other end. Morgado laid on her side next to her son’s body, facing him.
McNally said Prieto, speaking in Spanish, asked Morgado what happened. Prieto translated Morgado’s reply: “Now no one will take him from me.”
Detectives found a plastic syringe without a needle, several empty packages of adult cold medication and an empty prescription bottle in the bathroom. The syringe contained a reddish liquid residue.
The prescription bottle contained Alprazolam, a form of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, which police believe Morgado took with the intent of committing suicide. She was taken to Sound Shore Medical Center in New Rochelle, where McNally and Prieto later questioned and arrested her.
After she was read and voluntarily waived her Miranda rights, McNally said Morgado told detectives she attempted to asphyxiate her son with two syringes of adult cold medicine and inhaled helium from the tank. After her original method failed, Morgado placed her hand over the child’s mouth and used her weight to smother her son against a pillow. He died after the second attempt, according to McNally.
McNally said Morgado told detectives she thought about killing her son for an extended period of time and researched a method on the Internet that she believed would cause the least suffering. She purchased the helium tank online for this purpose.
Morgado said she was frustrated with the family court system and feared she was going to lose custody of Jason to his father, Briarcliff doctor Timothy Reish, according to Mamaroneck police.
Harvey Loeb, Morgado’s legal aid at the time, tried to suggest Morgado may have been sedated when she confessed to police at Sound Shore Medical Center. It is unclear if Siddiqui will try to use this defense during her trial.
Village of Mamaroneck Judge Christie Derrico found significant evidence to indicate that a felony occurred in the death of Jason Reish and that Morgado committed that felony.
Morgado pled not guilty on Dec. 18, 2012, and was indicted by a Westchester County grand jury shortly thereafter.
She had a DNA sample taken on June 7 in order to place her, beyond a shadow of a doubt, at the crime scene in her home, according to Chalfen, who said the DNA results have not been made available yet and the court expects them to take an extended period of time to be finished.
Morgado remains in West-chester County Jail in Valhalla, where she is being held without bail until her trial date. Calls to Sidduqui were not returned as of press time.