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Texas woman to plead guilty in son’s killing

Slain in N.H. motel in May, 6-year-old found in Maine

Julianne McCrery, 42, seen last May in a Portsmouth, N.H. court, would face 45 years to life for second-degree murder. Julianne McCrery, 42, seen last May in a Portsmouth, N.H. court, would face 45 years to life for second-degree murder. (Jim Cole/Associated Press/File)
By Peter Schworm
Globe Staff / September 29, 2011

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A Texas woman accused of suffocating her 6-year-old son in a New Hampshire motel in May intends to plead guilty to second-degree murder, according to court records.

As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors recently filed in Superior Court, Julianne McCrery admitted she smothered her son by lying on top of him. Under the deal, she would serve 45 years to life in prison.

McCrery, 42, is accused of killing Camden Hughes, wrapping his body in a blanket, and dumping it along a dirt road in Maine.

Camden’s body went unidentified for several days, sparking a nationwide search for a boy that residents of the South Berwick area called their “blue-eyed angel.’’

Prosecutors with the New Hampshire attorney general’s office and McCrery’s court-appointed defense lawyer could not be reached for comment.

A sentencing date has not been set.

McCrery’s former boyfriend, Robert Miller, said he was surprised that McCrery, who has a history of mental illness, would accept a plea rather than claiming insanity.

“I think she’s insane, and I don’t know why she wouldn’t try for that’’ defense, he said. “I don’t know what she had to lose.’’

Miller said he learned of the plea through McCrery’s mother, who recently received a letter from her daughter.

“She said she was going to take the 45 years,’’ he said. “I guess she wanted to be sure she stayed in prison.’’

Miller said he was stunned by the apparently violent manner of death. He had previously believed that McCrery gave Camden an overdose of cough syrup.

“I never thought she would do that,’’ he said.

Miller said Camden is very much missed. His elementary school has named part of the library Camden’s Corner in his honor, he said.

“He used to read to the class,’’ he said. “He learned to read really young.’’

Brenda Bingham, the principal at Hanes Elementary School in Irving, Texas, said yesterday that those who knew Camden, a bright boy with an easy smile, will forever treasure his memory.

“The greatest tragedy is that the world will never know what it is missing,’’ she said.

In May, McCrery’s lawyer said that she had come to New England from Texas for the express purpose of killing her son and herself and that she wanted to receive the death penalty so she could “get to heaven sooner.’’

Friends and relatives said McCrery had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had attempted suicide on a number of occasions.

McCrery was taken into custody after a truck driver spotted her blue pickup at a rest stop in Chelmsford.

The truck matched the description of a vehicle seen in the vicinity of where the boy’s body was found.

No one had reported him missing. McCrery had called the boy’s school to say he would be out sick, even days after he was killed.

Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.