Trial Of Former Sect Member Goes To Closings

Boston Globe/February 2, 2004

The defense rested Monday morning after calling just two witnesses in the murder trial if a woman accused of starving her baby to death to fulfill a religious prophesy.

Attorneys were set to deliver closing arguments in the case of Karen Robidoux, who is charged with second-degree murder in the 1999 death of her son, Samuel. Her husband Jacques was convicted of second-degree murder in June 2002 for his role in the baby's death.

After nearly two weeks of testimony by prosecution witnesses, Robidoux's attorney called just two psychologists before resting his case and did not put his client on the stand.

Robidoux, 28, and her husband were members of a tiny, Attleboro-based religious sect called "The Body," which rejects modern medicine. They began withholding solid food from their 10-month-old son after her sister-in-law -- also a member of the sect -- told her about a message she received from God.

Prosecutors allege the boy was starved over 51 days, dying just days before his first birthday.

Her attorney, Joseph Krowski, sought to portray Robidoux as an unwilling participant in the scheme, under the spell of the cult and her domineering husband.

On Monday he called to the stand a forensic psychologist who examined Robidoux several times at Taunton State Hospital, beginning in December 2002, and said she exhibited all the symptoms of a woman suffering from psychological abuse.

Dr. Charlotte Denton said Robidoux was in a "in a cognitive and emotional fog."

"I think she was psychologically battered," Denton said. "She was essentially held responsible (by the sect) for failing her son. It was a sign of her lack of faith."

Prosecutors did not cross-examine Denton, and Krowski rested his case. Closing arguments were to begin after a recess, and the jury was likely to get the case Monday afternoon.

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