NEW YORK (CNN) — Former pharmaceutical executive Gigi Jordan testified that she knowingly gave a lethal concoction of drugs to her 8-year-old son with autism.
Fighting back tears as she took the stand for the first time in her second-degree murder trial, Jordan said Wednesday that she knowingly gave herself and her son, Jude Mirra, enough drugs to kill them both. The prosecution, meanwhile, contends the killing was premeditated and Jordan expected to survive.
When her Manhattan trial opened last month, Jordan showed no emotion as a prosecutor described to a jury a “chilling and horrifying scenario” in which Jordan allegedly forced the boy to swallow a deadly drug cocktail. Bruises on the boy’s nose, chin and chest indicated that she got on top of him and pressed the poisonous mix of painkillers and anti-inflammatories down his throat with a syringe, the prosecutor alleged.
Looking gaunt and pale, Jordan denied that scenario on the stand Wednesday.
“Did you climb on top of Jude and grab his jaw and forcibly put liquid drugs down his throat,” defense lawyer Allan Brenner asked.
“No,” Jordan told the jury.
“Did you knowingly give Jude and yourself enough drugs to kill yourself and him?”
“Yes,” she responded, tears welling in her eyes.
Asked about a history of suicide in her family, Jordan said an aunt killed herself when Jordan was 12 and her mother tried three times.
Brenner and the defense team are trying to convince the jury that Jordan was a desperate mother ultimately driven to kill Jude by her two former husbands: One who had allegedly threatened to kill her, a crime that would have left the boy with his biological father, who she believed had sexually abused Jude.
On the stand Wednesday, Jordan, a former nurse who made millions in a home heath care company, also suggested that the boy was physically and sexually abused not only by his biological father but by her first husband and his wife as well as the woman who took the Jude to school. She testified that the boy was assaulted by “a good number of people.”
Jude was autistic and his vocabulary was limited, but one night he started screaming, according to Jordan: ” ‘Dad bad. Dad bad. Dad bad.’ Jude was never able to articulate the word and not clearly like he was screaming at the top of his lungs.”
Jordan testified that she held her son as Jude gestured at his crotch. He pulled Jordan in front of him and whispered, “Dad, butt. Finger, Finger.’ He also kept saying dad, and it was clear he was talking about his dad,” she told the jury.
She testified that the boy had been forced to eat feces and do other “gruesome and horrible” things by his biological father.
The boy’s father has denied the allegations and has never been charged, CNN affiliate WCBS reported.
In court, no one has disputed the unthinkable manner in which little Jude spent his final hours on February 5, 2010. Police found his cold body after they were dispatched to the luxury Peninsula Hotel in Manhattan. The call to police came after a relative of Jordan was unable to reach her.
At an autopsy, four of the painkillers and anti-inflammatories used to kill Jude were recovered undigested from his stomach, prosecutors said. Orange juice and vodka were used to wash down the drugs.
“His fate was sealed,” assistant district attorney Matt Bogdanos said in opening statements. “He didn’t die fast. One by one, his vital organs shut down. It didn’t take minutes. It took hours to die.”
While Jude lay dying, Bogdanos said, Jordan sent an email to a financial adviser instructing him to transfer the $125,000 trust she set up for her son to her personal account.
Brenner said Jordan, believing she was ultimately protecting her son, brought the drugs to the hotel room with the intention of killing them both, but she survived the suicide attempt.
The prosecution sought to show the jury that the killing was premeditated and that Jordan expected to survive.
Bogdanos said Jordan “went to the bank, she transferred $8 million from savings to checking. She checked in (at the hotel) without a reservation and paid cash.”
The exact time of the boy’s death could not be determined, but Jude’s body temperature was 80 degrees, suggesting that when police arrived, he had been dead for 8 to 14 hours, Bogdanos said.
Police found a variety of drugs, which the prosecutor enumerated for the jury: “Xanax, 1,000 pills; Prozac, 200 pills; Ambien 400 pills; Celebrex, a pain reliever, 250 pills; Trexone, similar to morphine, 300 pills; and hydrocodone.” These were among the drugs found in the hotel room and part of the lethal mix that Jordan allegedly gave her son, according to Bogdanos.
But Brenner has sought to show that Jordan acted out of love and desperation.
She had been threatened by her first husband and former business partner, Brenner said. She had accused the man of raiding her bank accounts and defrauding her of millions in profits from their joint businesses. She filed a lawsuit against him in 2012, seeking damages for breach of contract and fraud.
Defendant Gigi Jordan “knew all the dirty deals,” Brenner said. Her first husband “knew that Jude was her soft spot.”
Jordan “believed he was going to kill her, leaving a sexual predator to exercise his paternal rights,” Brenner told the jury.
Her first husband filed a lawsuit in August 2013, claiming Jordan defamed him in interviews she gave the media in an effort to advance her defense.
Jordan believed that if she died, Jude’s biological father, a yoga instructor, would have gained custody, according to Brenner.
Brenner said Jordan told a therapist and local authorities about the alleged abuse but no action was taken.
Jordan then decided to seek the help of a nationally renowned expert on child exploitation in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
After being interviewed by him for 30 minutes, Brenner said, Jordan was accused of being unfit and delusional, taken to a medical facility and separated from her son for several months before being reunited with the boy.
Jordan faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted.
CNN’s Grace Wong contributed to this report.