Latisha Fisher
Latisha Fisher will serve 18 years in prison for smothering her son before his second birthday. Photo: Google Commons

A New York mother has been sentenced to 18 years in state prison for smothering her infant son, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. announced on Monday.


Latisha Fisher, 38, will spend 18 years in state prison for smothering her 20-month-old son in the bathroom of a Midtown Manhattan restaurant in March 2015. Fisher pleaded guilty on Oct. 30 to one count of manslaughter (a class B felony) in the first degree.


After her release, Fisher will be under supervision for 10 years.


“Gavriel Ortiz-Fisher never reached his second birthday because of his mother’s unconscionable act,” Vance said. “While the fatal suffocation of a child at the hands of his own mother is a tragedy that can never be undone, I hope this lengthy prison sentence gives the victim’s grieving family some sense of closure. I urge anyone who believes they know a victim of child abuse to call our Child Abuse Hotline at 212-335-4308, or visit the Manhattan Family Justice Center at 80 Centre Street. Help is available for those in need.”


According to Fisher’s guilty plea and statements in court, around 2:30 p.m. on March 30, 2015, the staff of 5 Boro Burger on Sixth Avenue at 36th Street found Fisher sitting on the toilet. She was holding her 20-month-old son, who was foaming at the nose and whose lips were blue.


Restaurant staff called 911 and FDNY EMS transported the child to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at approximately 3:30 p.m. The New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner later ruled that the child’s death was a homicide as a result of smothering.

Fisher, a paranoid schizophrenic likely off her medication at the time of her son’s killing, some news reports speculated, avoided prison in the 2011 stabbing of her aunt.

Fisher “gave birth to a son a year ago and has adjusted very well to the demands of new motherhood,” according to a September 2014 report prepared by the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES), a program for felony offenders with mental illnesses.

“She has been the poster child for an alternative to incarceration program,” a court-appointed social worker found, according to an assessment obtained by the New York Daily News.

“We cannot speculate as to the reasons this heartbreaking episode occurred,” CASES Executive Director Joel Copperman said at the time. “However, we are working closely with city and state regulatory agencies investigating this case and are thoroughly examining the matter ourselves.”