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Naperville mom acquitted of child endangerment
By Christy Gutowski | Daily Herald Staff

Mary P. Morrissey

 

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Published: 1/25/2010 7:25 PM | Updated: 1/25/2010 7:25 PM

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A Naperville mother known for being active in her community was acquitted Monday of endangering her son's life in an incident sparked by a burnt pizza.

Police arrested Mary P. Morrissey about 9:30 p.m. Aug. 17 after accusing her of being too drunk to provide proper supervision of the 10-year-old boy in their home on Tulip Lane.

Earlier that evening, Morrissey left him in a babysitter's care while she attended a golf outing. The sitter put a pizza in the oven before leaving the home, upon Morrissey's return.

The boy, now 11, testified Monday his mother supervised him in the kitchen as he turned off the oven and tossed the blackened pizza into the garbage. He said his mother then went back to bed. Unable to wake her, the child said he called his grandfather for help because the oven still felt hot. The concerned grandfather called 911.

Two Naperville police officers testified Morrissey, 42, appeared highly intoxicated when they arrived to investigate a possible gas leak. They said she was incoherent, smelled of a strong odor of alcohol, and couldn't keep her balance.

Police administered a Breathalyzer, which they said showed Morrissey tested at about four times above the legal threshold of .08. Morrissey did not drive that evening, but police arrested her for misdemeanor child endangerment, alleging she placed her son in danger.

Morrissey was taking medication at the time for the treatment of breast cancer and to aid with sleeping. The medication when mixed with alcohol likely led to her condition, defense attorney Joseph Bugos said. Still, he argued, Morrissey provided proper supervision, including ensuring the oven was turned off.

DuPage Associate Judge Jane H. Mitton acquitted Morrissey after a short Monday trial. Mitton, who suppressed the BAC results based on a perfunctory legal issue, said that while Morrissey's conduct was "clearly very irresponsible," the circumstances did not rise to the level of criminal charges.

"It is clear that the defendant was extremely intoxicated," Mitton said. "It is my deep hope that the issue, which is clearly a problem, has been or is being addressed since this event." Morrissey is an active community member who volunteered as a Naperville Township Republican precinct committeeman, served with the Rotary Club of Naperville Sunrise, and was involved in a business partnership with Naperville Unit District 203.