PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – A prosecutor claims a woman charged in the drowning death of her 2-year-old son in a Pittsburgh hotel killed the boy to get back at her husband during a bitter divorce.

Assistant District Attorney Lisa Pellegrini said Sharon Flanagan, 34, of Inwood W. Va., searched online for “leading cause of toddler death” and “why is Casey Anthony so popular?” on her computer weeks earlier.

It was 6:18 p.m. on July 1, 2012, when Sharon Flanagan carried her 2-year-old son, Steven, into the Best Western in Green Tree.

She told police she planned to take him to Sandcastle water park because he loved to play in the water.

At one point, surveillance pictures show she picked him up and put him on the check-in counter.

But within a few hours she would be back in that lobby yelling that something happened to her baby as he lay face down in the bathtub in her sixth-floor room.

She claimed she didn’t have the strength to pull him out of the tub, and even put on a back brace. She told police some kind of strong force kept him in the tub.

During the course of their investigation though, police retrieved pictures from Flanagan showing Steven’s ability to climb in and out of a tub at his West Virginia home, as well as his ability to climb in and out of a kiddie pool, and to be able to push himself up in a moderate amount of water.

The jury also saw pictures like that of a tee-shirt which read, “I love mommy and mommy loves me,” which was found in Flanagan’s car.

She admitted she did things to curry favor with the boy since she and his father were in the midst of a bitter separation. She once accused the father of sexually molesting the boy, but police say there was no merit in the accusation.

The defense though says what happened in the hotel bathtub was an accident because there was no sign of a struggle.

Late Wednesday, a detective testified about what the prosecutor claimed in her opening statement: that Flanagan researched the Casey Anthony murder case in the days prior to the child’s death.

In addition to homicide, Flanagan is also charged with wiretapping because police say she illegally recorded her interview with detectives.


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