Prosecutor Details Infant's Demise

The Associated Press/June 6, 2002
By Denise Lavoie

Taunton, Mass. -- A religious sect member kept extensive notes documenting how he and his wife were slowly starving their infant son to death, a prosecutor said as the man's murder trial opened.

Assistant District Attorney Walter Shea said Jacques Robidoux's notes show that the boy cried horrifically when the starvation began.

"By the end of Day One, he writes that his wife, Karen, cannot bear what has happened because Samuel is crying so much,'' Shea said Wednesday.

The boy died two months later, in April 1999, three days before his first birthday. His body was found buried alongside his newborn cousin in a remote state park in Maine.

Jacques Robidoux, 29, is charged with first-degree murder. His wife faces a separate trial on a charge of second-degree murder.

Defense attorney Francis O'Boy deferred his opening statement until after the prosecution presents its case. He has said there is no clear evidence the boy died of starvation and that he may have died from scurvy, rickets or some other ailment.

Shea told the jury in his opening statement that the couple did nothing as Samuel went from being a healthy 10-month-old boy who had just taken his first step to an emaciated baby who could barely roll over.

"Day after day, week after week, in the face of the horrific crying, in the face of the radical weight loss. ... Jacques Robidoux and his wife Karen continued to do what they knew was killing their son,'' Shea said.

Shea said the baby was receiving only trace amounts of breast milk because Karen Robidoux had recently become pregnant with another child.

Michelle Robidoux Mingo, the baby's aunt, also faces trial on charges of being an accessory to assault and battery on a child for allegedly suggesting the idea of withholding food from Samuel. Prosecutors claim the aunt said God told her the boy should not be fed solid food.

The prosecution's first witness, former sect member Nicole Kidson, Jacques Robidoux's older sister, described life in the sect, which comprised several families living communally about 30 miles south of Boston.

She said sect members thought of themselves as "God's chosen people,'' and were not allowed televisions, checkbooks, jewelry or eyeglasses. They discarded all books except the Bible and didn't celebrate birthdays, believing the candles on the cake had pagan origins.

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