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Board recommends parole for woman convicted of starving newborn

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(NewsNation) — The Louisiana Board of Pardons is recommending that a woman who was convicted of starving her infant to death be released after 17 years in prison.

Tiffany Woods and her partner fled New Orleans with their four children just before Hurricane Katrina hit, including 2-month-old Emmanuel. At birth, he had tested positive for a genetic anomaly that increases the risk of sudden death, but the family had not gotten follow-up testing before the storm came.

In a shelter, the couple fed Emmanuel formula they bought with government vouchers. The baby was extremely sleepy and had trouble feeding, and when they ran out of vouchers, the parents began to feed him organic cow’s milk.

Cow’s milk is not recommended for infants under a year old because it doesn’t contain the right mix of nutrients for them and can be too hard on a baby’s system.

Within weeks, Emmanuel was dead. An autopsy labeled the cause of death as malnutrition.

Prosecutors charged Woods and her partner with second-degree murder, and both were found guilty. Louisiana is one of two states where second-degree murder comes with a mandatory life sentence.

Prosecutors say Woods claimed she was out of vouchers, but food and beer were in the fridge. They also showed pictures of Emmanuel’s sickly body and argued Woods was negligent because she didn’t take the baby to a doctor before he died.

Appearing before the board, Woods said she was not the same person she was when Emmanuel died. Prison officials also said she had few incidents while behind bars. The board unanimously voted to recommend parole.

While the board makes a recommendation, Gov. John Bel Edwards has the ultimate say on whether she will be released.