Erica Claudette White and Michael Robert Schullerm are accused of murdering the former's disabled son. Now, according to AJC, investigations reveal the couple had taken out several credit cards in the child's name, causing investigators to wonder if there was a "poisoning for profit" scheme behind the killing.
The child was given a lethal dose of codein in 2014. The couple had originally offered an alibi — they said they were at a nearby gun range while White’s daughter and husband babysat. The child become unresponsive and died at a nearby hospital. An autopsy revealed high levels of codein in the child’s body.
Police say that the motive for the death related to the couple's desire to free themselves of the responsibility of the child's care. The child had become brain damage after facing severe beatings from his biological father early in his life.
The suspects were found to have taken out credit cards in the child's name with the purpose of funding their drug addiction and other spending habits, including several trips to Best Buy to purchase electronics. They also failed to notify Social Security of the child's death with the intention of continuing to collect funds and similarly collected money from online fundraising accounts and life insurance policies. They face 13 separate charges.
In White's ongoing trial in Marietta, Georgia, Chief ADA John Melvin characterized White as "a liar, a thief and a murderer," according to MDJOnline.
“This is a case about poisoning for profit,” Melvin said. “It’s a case about doing away with the inconvenience of a child that she viewed as damaged.”
“Erica White’s life was [the child],” countered White’s attorney, Bryan Lumpkin, who added that the child’s health began failing before his death. “He was having fevers. He was sick to the point of having to be in the hospital for a week. He was having breathing problems, he had a virus and he had seizures that were getting worse and worse.”
“She didn’t ask for Tyrael to be abused, but she didn’t give up on him,” Lumpkin continued, painting a starkly different picture. “She gave her life to him, and she did everything she could to make his life better.”
Schullerman has pleaded guilty to 12 of the 13 charges. He has not pleaded guilty to murder. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
[Photo: Cobb County Sheriff's Office]