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Veronica CIRELLA





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Accused of feeding M&Ms that contained traces of peanuts to her disabled and allergic eight-year-old daughter
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: July 23, 2011
Date of arrest: Same day (suicide attempt)
Date of birth: 1980
Victim profile: Julie Cirella, 8 (her allergic disabled daughter)
Method of murder: Poisoning with peanut chocolates
Location: Plainview, Nassau County, New York, USA
Status: Ordered held without bail on April 4, 2012 pending trial
photo gallery
Veronica Cillera suicide note
Statement of Veronica Cillera

M&M Murder: Veronica Cirella Killed Her Allergic Daughter With Peanut Chocolates, Cops Say

By Andy Campbell - The Huffington Post

April 6, 2012

A New York mom is accused of killing her daughter by feeding the little girl peanut M&Ms -- which she was severely allergic to, cops said.

Veronica Cirella, 31, of Plainview, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder in the death of her 8-year-old daughter Julie, who was found dead in her home on July 23 last year, CBS reported. The little girl, who had cerebral palsy, was found just hours before she was to be a flower girl in a cousin's wedding.

Cops found Cirella lying on the floor near her daughter's body. She had allegedly tried to kill herself with a cocktail of insulin injections and painkillers, and then attempted to strangle herself with an electrical cord according to News One. She also left a suicide note detailing the events leading up to her daughter's death.

"I had to give her a better life, which was to give her back to heaven," Cirella allegedly wrote. "She does not deserve to be in pain whatsoever. I don't mind going to hell because I took my life to give her a better life, which is in heaven where she can be free."

Cirella reportedly gave the girl the M&Ms as a treat for agreeing to participate in the wedding. Cops said that she knew her daughter was allergic to peanuts, and claims that she gave the girl a dose of Benadryl in order to counteract any allergic reactions before Cirella went to sleep.

Cirella's mother-in-law, Dolores Cirella, discovered the two when she checked in to see how the wedding preparations were going.

Cirella faces a life sentence for the alleged murder.


Mother 'murdered allergic disabled 8-year-old daughter by feeding her peanut M&Ms'

By Associated Press

April 5, 2012

A woman accused of feeding M&Ms that contained traces of peanuts to her disabled and allergic eight-year-old daughter pleaded not guilty today to an upgraded charge of second-degree murder in the child's death.

Veronica Cirella, 31, of Plainview, New York, was ordered held without bail in the July 23 death of her daughter, Julie, who was found only hours before she was set to be a flower girl in a cousin's wedding.

Cirella had previously been charged with manslaughter.

Attorney William Keahon implored the Nassau County judge to release his client on bail, contending an autopsy has failed to determine a cause of death. But the judge cited Cirella's suicide attempt the day her daughter died and the fact that Cirella is now facing a potential life sentence as reasons to hold her in custody until her trial.

'I've never seen an indictment for murder, intentional murder, where the medical examiner cannot even give a causation of death, nor can he even say it's a homicide. It's bizarre,' Keahon told reporters outside the Long Island courthouse.

District Attorney Kathleen Rice released a statement saying the grand jury heard from Cirella and several witnesses before returning the indictment on the second-degree murder charge.

'Every child's death arouses strong emotions, but prosecutors must evaluate the evidence objectively, and regardless of how difficult the defendant perceived her circumstances to be, taking her daughter's life was unjustified,' Rice said.

After Cirella's arrest last summer, Assistant District Attorney Zeena Abdi said that Julie, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant and was confined to a wheelchair, had suffered an allergic reaction to something she was fed.

'There was a certain protocol that should have been followed as far as giving care for the allergy that she did not take,' the prosecutor said at the time.

After discovering Julie had died, Cirella told police that she attempted suicide by taking both injections of insulin and drinking the medication, as well as taking an unknown quantity of painkillers. She also told police she attempted to strangle herself with an electrical cord. Cirella and her daughter were found by Cirella's mother-in-law, Dolores Cirella, who also lived in the Plainview home, when she checked on their preparations for the wedding later that afternoon.

A suicide note written by Cirella, found in court documents, indicates that the mother admitted feeding M&Ms to her daughter the night before she died as a special treat for her participation in the wedding the following day.

She says in the suicide note that when she realized the child had eaten a product containing peanuts, which she read on the candy's label, she administered liquid Benadryl to counter the effects. She said the two eventually went to sleep and she found the child dead early the following morning.

Cirella also alludes in the suicide note to ongoing disputes with her now-estranged husband, Joseph, who had been arrested earlier the same week of the wedding on charges of violating an order of protection.

'Trust me things only would have gotten worse,' Cirella writes in the note. 'I could not risk loosing [sic] my daughter. I could not risk her being mistreated if he killed me. No one could take care of her the way I could.'

Later in the note, she writes: 'I had to give her a better life, which was to give her back to heaven. She does not deserve to be in pain whatsoever. I don't mind going to hell because I took my life to give her a better life which is in heaven where she can be free.'

Keahon contended that Cirella's statements were those of a distraught woman who believed she had accidentally killed her daughter by feeding her the M&Ms. He also argued that there was no evidence of peanuts found in the child's body after the autopsy.

The suicide note makes no mention of whether Cirella knowingly fed the child something she knew would be harmful.

Several relatives and friends described Cirella outside court as a caring, devoted mother.

'She would never hurt her, never, never,' her mother-in-law, Dolores Cirella, said.

'She baby-sits for my grandson,' added sister-in-law Joanne Cirella. 'If I ever thought she ever harmed her daughter, I would never even let her near him. He's 2-years-old. She loves that boy to death.'


Mother in poisoning case out of jail

By Ann Givens -

September 7, 2011

A Plainview woman who prosecutors said poisoned her disabled 8-year-old daughter by giving the girl food she was allergic to was released from jail without bail Wednesday after prosecutors did not indict her within the legal time limit.

Veronica Cirella's lawyer, William Keahon, made a legal demand last week for what's known as a felony exam, giving prosecutors six days to either present their evidence against her to a judge, or indict her.

Prosecutors did neither, because they are "awaiting the medical examiner's ongoing investigation," said Chris Munzing, a spokesman for Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice. Munzing would not comment further. If prosecutors get a grand jury indictment against Cirella in the future, they will likely ask a judge to put her back in jail pending a trial.

Keahon, of Hauppauge, said Julie Cirella's autopsy was inconclusive, and prosecutors await further toxicology reports on the girl. Unless those reports show evidence of foul play, prosecutors will not have enough proof to indict her mother, Keahon said, commending prosecutors for what he said was their cautious approach to the case.

The felony count against Cirella, second-degree manslaughter, charges that she failed to take the medical steps necessary to save her daughter.

Keahon said he fully expected his client to be vindicated.

"She was loving, caring, and dedicated her life to this beautiful child," Keahon said.

Julie Cirella was preparing to be a flower girl in her cousin's July 23 wedding, but was instead found dead inside the family home hours before the ceremony. Her mother was lying nearby with a cord around her neck.

Prosecutors said they found a note at Cirella's home with "language that asserts an intention to kill." But Keahon said the note was not a confession, but a rant following the "trauma of finding her child dead. "The mother was taking responsibility, and blaming herself in some fashion for not being able to save her child's life."


Plainview Woman In Possible Murder-Suicide Attempt Allegedly Says Daughter Should Die

July 25, 2011

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A prosecutor says a Long Island woman fed her disabled 8-year-old girl food she was allergic to, then tried to kill herself and left a note that said “her daughter should die.”

Veronica Cirella, 30, of Plainview was charged with manslaughter at her arraignment Sunday at the Nassau University Medical Center. Police said both mother and daughter Julie were discovered on the floor of their home unconscious by the girl’s grandmother Saturday morning.

Julie had a cord around her neck.

“The grandchild could not be revived, however that child’s mother was brought to Nassau County Medical Center where we understand she is alive and conscious,” said Kevin Smith with Nassau County police.

Judge Anna Anzalone ordered Cirella jailed without bail. Neighbors described her as attentive and loving to Julie.

According to Newsday, prosecutor Zeena Abdi said there was a certain protocol regarding the girl’s care that the mother didn’t follow.

Autopsy results remained inconclusive; further tests were pending.

“It appears right now that we have an undetermined homicide,” said Smith. “We don’t know what caused the death of the 8-year-old child. There are no outward signs of violence or any trauma to that child. So it’s still very much under investigation.”

Cirella’s Legal Aid attorney Yolanda Guerra denied the accusations.

Newsday says the child had cerebral palsy. She was supposed to be a flower girl in her cousin’s wedding.

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