The trial of Gigi Jordan opens with prosecutors saying she gave her son a drug overdose
Jude Mirra, 8, who was autistic, died from painkillers and anti-inflammatories, prosecutors say
The defense says the desperate mother aimed to protect her son from a sexually abusive father
Jordan, charged with second-degree murder, faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted
Gigi Jordan showed no emotion as a New York prosecutor described to a jury a “chilling and horrifying scenario” in which the businesswoman who made a fortune in pharmaceuticals allegedly concocted a lethal cocktail of painkillers and anti-inflammatories and forced her 8-year-old autistic son to swallow it.
“Two fresh bruises on his nose, fresh bruises on his chin and chest suggest she got on top of him and, hopefully while he was asleep, filled a syringe with the poisonous concoction and pressed that plunger into his body,” said assistant district attorney Matt Bogdanos, demonstrating how she might have squeezed his nose and pressed open his mouth to deliver the poison.
“His fate was sealed,” Bogdanos said. “He didn’t die fast. One by one, his vital organs shut down. It didn’t take minutes. It took hours to die.”
But on the first day of Jordan’s sensational second-degree murder trial – expected to last months – defense attorney Allan Brenner painted a starkly different portrait.
Brenner described Jordan as a desperate mother ultimately driven to kill Jude Mirra by her two former husbands: One who had allegedly threatened to kill her, a crime that would have left the boy with his biological father, who she believed had sexually abused Jude.
In packed Manhattan criminal courtroom Wednesday, no one disputed the unthinkable manner in which little Jude spent his final hours on February 5, 2010. Police found his cold body after they were dispatched to the luxury Peninsula Hotel in Manhattan. The call to police came after a relative of Jordan was unable to reach her.
At an autopsy, four of the painkillers and anti-inflammatories used to kill Jude were recovered undigested from his stomach, prosecutors said. Orange juice and vodka were used to wash down the drugs.
While Jude lay dying, Bogdanos said, Jordan sent an email to a financial adviser instructing him to transfer the $125,000 trust she set up for her son to her personal account.
Brenner said Jordan, believing she was ultimately protecting her son, brought the drugs to the hotel room with the intention of killing them both, but she survived the suicide attempt.
The prosecution sought to show the jury that the killing was premeditated and that Jordan expected to survive.
Bogdanos said Jordan “went to the bank, she transferred $8 million from savings to checking. She checked in (at the hotel) without a reservation and paid cash.”
The exact time of the boy’s death could not be determined, but Jude’s body temperature was 80 degrees, suggesting that when police arrived, he had been dead for eight to 14 hours, Bogdanos said.
Police found a variety of drugs, which the prosecutor enumerated for the jury.
“Xanax, 1,000 pills; Prozac, 200 pills; Ambien 400 pills; Celebrex, a pain reliever, 250 pills; Trexone, similar to morphine, 300 pills; and hydrocodone 9” were among the drugs found in the hotel room and part of the lethal mix that Jordan allegedly gave her son, according to Bogdanos.
Still, Brenner told a spellbound jury that on that fateful day in 2010, Jordan acted out of love and desperation.
She had been threatened by her first husband and former business partner, Brenner said. She had accused the man of raiding her bank accounts and defrauding her of millions in profits from their joint businesses. She filed a lawsuit against him in 2012, seeking damages for breach of contract and fraud.
“Gigi knew all the dirty deals,” Brenner said. “He knew that Jude was her soft spot.”
Jordan “believed he was going to kill her, leaving a sexual predator to exercise his paternal rights,” Brenner told the jury.
A lawyer representing her first husband did not returns calls and emails seeking comment. But her first husband filed a lawsuit in August 2013, claiming Jordan defamed him in interviews she gave the media in an effort to advance her defense.
Jordan believed that if she died, Jude’s biological father – a yoga instructor and undocumented immigrant who Jordan said she married to help him get a green card – would get custody, according to Brenner.
Jordan first learned that Jude had been sexually abused in December 2007, Brenner said.
Jude was autistic and his vocabulary was limited, but in just a few words, he uttered: “Dad bad, Dad bad, over and over again,” according to Brenner. That was Jude’s way of letting his mother know that he had been victimized repeatedly sexually and physically, Brenner said.
“He had been made to eat feces and subjected to the most degrading conduct imaginable,” he said.
Jude’s biological father could not be reached for comment. A relative of the father did not return calls seeking comment.
The boy’s father has denied the allegations and has never been charged, CNN affiliate WCBS reported.
Brenner said Jordan told a therapist about the alleged abuse. The allegations were reported to local authorities, but no action was taken. Jordan then decided to seek the help of a nationally renowned expert on child exploitation in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
After being interviewed by him for 30 minutes, Brenner said, Jordan was accused of being unfit and delusional, taken to a medical facility and separated from her son for several months before being reunited with the boy.
“Now she sits here forever brokenhearted, stranded and separated from the true love of her life – her son,” Brenner said.
Jordan faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted. She is expected to take the stand.
CNN’s Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.