02:12 - Source: WCBS
Murder trial begins for millionaire

Story highlights

Gigi Jordan testifies that she gave her son a lethal drug cocktail

Jude Mirra, 8, who was autistic, died from painkillers, other drugs, 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

(CNN) —  

Former pharmaceutical executive Gigi Jordan at first appeared calm as she described for a New York jury the last time she saw her son alive, those now-fuzzy final moments before she gave the 8-year-old autistic boy a lethal drug concoction. She ordered him food. She may have put on a movie for him.

Fighting back tears as she took the stand for the first time in her second-degree murder trial, Jordan said Wednesday that she knowingly gave herself and her son, Jude Mirra, enough drugs to kill them both. The prosecution, meanwhile, contends the killing was premeditated and Jordan expected to survive.

When her trial opened last month, Jordan showed no emotion as a prosecutor described to a jury a “chilling and horrifying scenario” in which Jordan allegedly forced the boy to swallow the deadly cocktail. Bruises on the boy’s nose, chin and chest indicated that she got on top of him and pressed the poisonous mix of painkillers and anti-inflammatories down his throat with a syringe, the prosecutor alleged.

Looking gaunt and pale, Jordan denied that scenario on the stand Wednesday.

“Did you climb on top of Jude and grab his jaw and forcibly put liquid drugs down his throat,” Brenner asked.

“No,” Jordan told the jury.

“Did you knowingly give Jude and yourself enough drugs to kill yourself and him?”

“Yes,” she responded, tears welling in her eyes.

Asked about a history of suicide in her family, Jordan said an aunt killed herself when Jordan was 12 and her mother tried three times.

Brenner and the defense team are trying to convince the jury that Jordan was a desperate mother ultimately driven to kill Jude 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.

On Wednesday, Jordan also suggested that the boy was physically and sexually abused not only by his biological father but also by others, including the woman who took Jude to school. She testified that the boy was assaulted by “a good number of people.”

Jude was autistic and his vocabulary was limited, but one night he started screaming, according to Jordan: ” ‘Dad bad. Dad bad. Dad bad.’ Jude was never able to articulate the word and not clearly like he was screaming at the top of his lungs.”

Jordan testified that she held her son as Jude gestured at his crotch. He pulled Jordan in front of him and whispered, “Dad, butt. Finger, Finger.’ He also kept saying dad, and it was clear he was talking about his dad,” she told the jury.

She testified that the boy had been forced to eat feces and do other “gruesome and horrible” things by his biological father.

The boy’s father has denied the allegations and has not been charged, CNN affiliate WCBS reported.

In court, no one has 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 hotel. 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.

“His fate was sealed,” assistant district attorney Matt Bogdanos said in opening statements. “He didn’t die fast. One by one, his vital organs shut down. It didn’t take minutes. It took hours to die.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

Jordan faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted. She is expected to take the stand.

CNN’s Grace Wong contributed to this report.