Dawn Marie Branson: A Sad Story Only Half Told

By Michael Fumento


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The death of a child is heartbreaking. 48 Hours reported on Dawn Marie Branson, an Arizona mother who drove her three-year-old son, Nathaniel, to his death in a head-on crash on March 18, 2000. Ms. Branson says the Adderall she had been legally prescribed for her ADHD had made her psychotic. Here's what viewers didn't get to see or hear:

Ms. Branson had a history of mental illness prior to the March 18 crash.

According to police records, her former husband told investigators that he only found out after their marriage that Ms. Branson had been released from a psychiatric hospital three months before they met. Her graduate school roommate told police that Ms. Branson has had a long history with mental disorder and had been admitted while they were in school. The friend also revealed that Ms. Branson had attempted suicide. Why didn't 48 Hours put Ms. Branson's claim about medication side effects in its proper context?

Ms. Branson let her son ride without a car seat on that fatal drive.

According to police records, experts in traffic accident reconstructions said Nathaniel must have been on his mother's lap before the crash. Ms. Branson told the police he had been in a car seat. Misleadingly, 48 Hours showed a family photograph of the boy beaming from a car seat.

Ms. Branson was not "cleared."

A court of law did not rule that Ms. Branson was "cleared of any criminal responsibility for her child's death," as 48 Hours reported. Rather's team misrepresented the outcome of the investigation. In fact, prosecutors simply declined to take the case to trial.

Ms. Branson's attorneys have an agenda.

48 Hours did not report that Ms. Branson and Ryan Ehlis, the other parent in the program who said Adderall made him kill his baby, have retained the same attorneys to go after Shire USA Inc., the makers of the drug. The attorneys specialize in big-dollar lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies. Again, why didn't 48 Hours provide full context?

Did 48 Hours thoroughly investigate Ms. Branson's case?

According to the Glendale Police Department, no request for information or access had been provided in the last six months, prior to my investigation, in connection with this case.