A Warner Springs woman who poisoned her 2-year-old son by mixing household cleaners with his apple juice to try to get her fiance's attention was sentenced today to 10 years and four months in state prison.
Christina Noel Howell, 23, pleaded guilty to one count each of felony child abuse and poisoning.
The defendant initially told authorities that she saw her 22-month-old son Christian drink a full bottle of Tilex on May 25, 2008. The toddler was treated and released from Rady Children's Hospital.
Three days later, Howell again called 911 and reported that the boy was having seizures, throwing up and wracked by severe shaking.
The toddler was again airlifted to Children's Hospital, where he was treated for severe burns to his esophagus and stomach, according to court documents.
Within a couple of days of her son's second hospitalization, Howell told her fiance, Chris Daly, that she had found someone new and was leaving the state to start a new life, authorities said.
On June 9, 2008, Howell told a sheriff's detective that she actually left Tilex out in a bathroom while she was cleaning, according to the court documents.
When told by her fiance that investigators searched their residence, the defendant said, ''If they searched, I'm going to be done,'' according to court documents.
Daly told authorities that Howell told him that she put some Drano in a ''sippy'' cup and emptied it out and gave Christian the juice.
Howell told a detective that she remembered putting Liquid Plumr in Christian's cup, then emptied it out, got sidetracked and came back and poured apple juice in it.
She then gave Christian the apple juice with the remnants of Liquid Plumr she was going to use to clean the bathroom, according to court documents.
Howell was arrested on June 19, 2008, when she said she was moving to Wyoming.
In a subsequent interview, Howell told the detective she had an attention problem. The defendant said she put filled half of the cup with Drano, poured the apple juice in it, put on the lid and gave it to Christian.
Howell said she wanted to do the act for the attention of Daly, who she said got a lot of attention and didn't give her two sons enough attention.
In a fifth interview on June 23, 2008, Howell said Christian never consumed the whole bottle of Tilex. When asked about the Liquid Plumr incident on May 28, 2008, Howell said she believed that she didn't want to kill the child but thought it could hurt him.
Later, a pediatrician discovered that Howell's 7-month-old son, Cyle, had logged a dozen emergency room visits in the first six months of his life. He had many invasive procedures based on symptoms that Howell stated, but those
symptoms were rarely observed in the hospital, according to court records.