A jury has found a Park City mother guilty on all charges for contributing to her 11-year-old son’s death by failing to give him proper medical care after his heart transplant.
Jennifer B. Stroud, 41, of the 500 block of Rosedale Avenue in Park City, was charged with involuntary manslaughter of a family member and two counts of child endangerment causing death.
Stroud was charged in January 2017 after her son, Jason Stroud, died on September 11, 2016.
A now-deleted GoFundMe account created by Jennifer said that Jason had received a heart transplant on May 6, 2012, at Children’s Wisconsin Hospital in Milwaukee when the boy was 7 years old.
He had undergone eight open-heart surgeries and 20 procedures before he received the transplant, the GoFundMe page said.
Jennifer Stroud claimed that Jason’s heart was in “complete rejection/failure” due to coronary artery disease after rare genes were found in the donor heart he received.
The Daily Herald reported that the family switched hospitals and were supposed to make regular visits to Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was notified after the family missed several doctor’s appointments between December 2015 and August 2016.
Jason was hospitalized in August 2016 and died in September 2016 at the age of 11.
He was a sixth-grader at Woodland Middle School in Gurnee, the Daily Herald reported.
Prosecutors said after the arrest of Jennifer Stroud and Jason’s father, David Stroud, that the boy’s body began rejecting the donor heart because the daily medication that he needed was not given to him by his parents.
David Stroud pleaded guilty in 2019 to involuntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to five years in prison, court records show.
A jury trial for Jennifer Stroud began early last week after being delayed by the pandemic.
Pharmacist Scott Waggner, who was called as a witness, testified that it is critical for heart transplant patients to take two medications twice a day, every day, to combat organ rejection, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“If you miss two or three doses a week — or even one a week — you’re starting to play with fire,” Waggner said.
The jury heard from 13 witnesses called by prosecutors that included medical experts who explained how Stroud missing numerous appointments and failing to give medication led to Jason’s heart failure and death.
Several social workers and medical professionals testified that Jennifer Stroud was offered free transportation and lodging in order to assist her in attending the appointments.
State witnesses also testified that the medications and testing procedures were free of charge to the family.
Closing arguments finished Tuesday and the jury began deliberating the verdict Tuesday morning.
The jury, after approximately an hour of deliberations, found Jennifer Stroud guilty on all three counts Tuesday afternoon.
Eric Kalata, the lead trial prosecutor on the case said the evidence in the case covered “months of failure” on the part of Jennifer Stroud.
“Both parents knew that Jason’s transplant required lifetime care, and they knew the risks of failing him. They were reckless with his life, and we hope these verdicts start a path toward justice for Jason,” Kalata said.
Jennifer Stroud, who has been out on bond since her case began, was remanded into the custody of the Lake County Jail.
Stroud faces up to 14 years in prison and a sentencing hearing is being scheduled.
Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart thanked the Park City Police Department, DCFS and the Child Protective Services Team at Lurie’s Children Hospital for their assistance in the investigation.
“I want to thank them, the prosecutors, and all the medical professionals who strived to save Jason. We will continue our efforts to hold Stroud responsible at the sentencing hearing,” Rinehart said.