Newsday reports today that Leatrice Brewer, a Westbury NY woman found not guilty by reason of insanity of drowning her three children in a bathtub is now seeking part of the $350,000 recovered from Nassau County for the children’s wrongful deaths. The fathers of the children had sued based upon their claims that the Department of Social Services was negligent in not doing more to save the children. Even though New York has a "slayer statute" which prevents a murderer from profiting from the fruits of his or her crime, Peter Kelly, Brewer’s court-appointed attorney has pointed out that unless and until she is disqualified by the Surrogate’s Court, she will be entitled to an intestate share of her children’s wrongful death recovery. A hearing to determine whether or not she can recover will be held on August 15.
It is significant , however, that the State of New York has a 1.2 million dollar lien against Brewer’s possible recovery to defray the costs of her psychiatric treatment. If her recovery is not derailed by the Surrogate, the end result of this is that a substantial amount of the damages paid by one arm of government as compensation to bereaved family members will simply be scooped up by another arm of government to pay the killer’s medical costs.