January 26, 2020

Bronx man sentenced in rat poison death of 5-year-old son

NEW YORK (AP) – A New York City man will spend 20 years to life in prison for killing his 5-year-old son and sickening his 7-year-old daughter with poison-laced pizza.

After learning that his ex-wife was seeing another man, Leonardo Espinal took it out on their children in November 2012 by tainting their pizza with rat poison, Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said Thursday after the sentencing.

The little girl, Mia, threw up after eating the pizza. When her brother, Steward, soiled himself, their father took him into the bathroom.

Espinal’s stepmother called 911. Police broke down the bathroom door. Steward was in the bathtub, dead from a combination of the poison and being submerged in water.

“My beloved angel,” the children’s mother, Rosaura Abreu, said in a victim impact statement that was written in Spanish, translated into English and read by a prosecutor in court.

“I will never forget the last time I saw my little son. … He was radiant, happy, content and followed me all around the house.”

“When it was time for me to leave, he followed me to the door and I knelt down to talk with him. It’s as if my heart knew that it would be the last time I would see him alive.”

Steward told his mother that he loved her. They hugged and she said “that I loved him from the bottom of my heart, more than own life.”

After the crime, Mia suffered anxiety attacks at the mere mention of returning to the apartment. “She never wanted to sleep in the same bed where she slept with her Steward, protecting him from monsters,” their mother said.

Therapy has helped them, but is by no means a cure-all.

“Mia suffers a great deal when she goes to parties, when she goes to bed, when she plays with other children, when she sees photos of him, when she sees another boy the same age as him, when she sees me sad because she knows I am thinking of him,” Abreu said.

Espinal pleaded guilty last month to murder and attempted murder.

“All we can do,” said Abreu, “is take it day by day.”

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Bronx man sentenced in rat poison death of 5-year-old son

DC Comics women given retro makeovers for Bombshell Variant covers

DC Comics

‘ iconic female characters have been rendered in classic 1940s and ’50s pin-up style as part of the publisher’s Bombshell Variant promotion.

Artist Ant Lucia’s retro takes on Wonder Woman, Catwoman and Poison Ivy have been revealed ahead of their release in June.

The special variant covers will feature on 20 of DC’s best-selling titles that month, including

Action Comics


Detective Comics

#32 and

Green Lantern


DC Collectibles’ Bombshell Statue line served as the inspiration for the Bombshell covers.

“I’m so proud of the work we’ve accomplished on the Bombshell line and very excited to see them become part of the cover series,” Lucia told USA Today. “It has been a privilege to work with the team at DC Collectibles and watch these develop.”

She added: “Having my art on the cover of DC’s comic books has been a dream of mine since I was very young so this is particularly special to me.”


DC Comics women given retro makeovers for Bombshell Variant covers

Garden Variety: Tougher poison ivy

Can poison ivy really get any worse?

If you have ever had a reaction to the plant, just the inscribed memory of endless itching might make you doubtful that anything could rival it. For gardeners and outdoor enthusiasts who regularly encounter poison ivy, however, the rumors that the plant is becoming more abundant are starting to look true.

The news about poison ivy (Toxicodendron taxa) is more than rumor, but if you heard it from a friend, it would be easy to put it in a box with old wives’ tales and snake oils. Research at Duke University in the early 2000s started the discussion when the results of a six-year study on the relationship between poison ivy and elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide were released.

The bottom line from the report’s abstract reads: “Our results indicate that Toxicodendron taxa will become more abundant and more ‘toxic’ in the future, potentially affecting global forest dynamics and human health.”

In the study, when atmospheric carbon dioxide increased in a forest, poison ivy was able to photosynthesize better and use water more efficiently, making it grow faster and larger than it would otherwise. In addition, the urushiol (the oil responsible for skin irritation) produced by these plants was more allergenic than in plants at normal atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

Elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide is related to growth stimulation in other species of plants also, but the rate of increase in poison ivy is higher than most and will help the plant outcompete others as carbon dioxide levels increase.

Unfortunately, little can be done to stop poison ivy besides avoidance and controlling it on your own property. Learn to recognize the plant, characterized by compound leaves with three leaflets. Poison ivy can be a vine, a shrub or something that looks like a perennial groundcover with single leaves coming out of the ground. Along the Kansas River north of Lawrence, large patches of waist-high poison ivy are easy to find. By mid-to-late summer the leaves often have reddish spots on them that make them easier to recognize.

If you encounter poison ivy, avoid touching any part of the plant or contacting it with tools or clothing. Urushiol, the oil produced by the plant, can be carried on objects and cause a reaction later through indirect contact. Urushiol can also be inhaled if poison ivy plants are burned.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80 to 90 percent of humans are allergic to urushiol, but allergies can develop for those who think they are immune. Urushiol reactions are characterized by itchy red bumps, patches and weeping blisters.

— Jennifer Smith is a former horticulture extension agent for K-State Research and Extension and horticulturist for Lawrence Parks and Recreation. She is the host of “The Garden Show” and has been a gardener since childhood. Send your gardening questions and feedback to Lawrence Living@ljworld.com.

Lawrence Journal-World.

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Garden Variety: Tougher poison ivy

Takes steps to avoid poison ivy, oak, sumac

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Takes steps to avoid poison ivy, oak, sumac

10 Health Woes Summer Can Bring

Summer’s almost here, and so are microbes and other environmental woes that can bring your sun and surf fun into a halt.

Among the infections that tend to come when the temperatures rise, some are mild while others can be deadly.  From poisonous plants to “brain-eating” amoebas, here are ten health hazards you should be aware of this summer:

Valley fever

Valley fever, also called coccidioidomycosis, is an infection by a fungus that lives in soil. People become infected by breathing in the spores of the fungi from the air.

This fungus is thought to grow best in soil after heavy rainfall, and then to disperse into the air during hot, dry conditions. Researchers have found an increase in the number of infection during hot and dry weather conditions, for example during drought, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the U.S., these fungi are found in Western states including California and Arizona, but have also been recently found in south-central Washington.

It is difficult to prevent breathing in fungal spores, but people who live in or travel to areas where the fungi are common, can try to avoid spending time in dusty places as much as possible. Most people who become infected experience flu-like symptoms, and get better on their own within two to three months, but some need antifungal medication, according to the CDC.

West Nile virus

West Nile virus lives in birds and mosquitoes, and is transmitted to people by mosquito bites. In the United States, infections tend to rise starting June, and the number of cases peaks in the middle of August, according to the CDC.

Most infected people show no symptoms, but some develop a fever, headache and nausea. About 1 percent of people develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis, meningitis or paralysis, and about 10 percent of people in this group die from their infection.

You can reduce the risk of getting infected with West Nile virus by using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing, such as long sleeves and pants, to prevent mosquito bites.

Brain-eating amoeba

The Naegleria fowleri is a heat-loving microscopic amoeba living in warm freshwater, for example lakes, rivers, and hot springs. It can also be found in soil. Most cases of infection with this amoeba have occurred during the summer months.

People usually get infected by swimming in warm, fresh water. Water containing the parasite can enter the body through the nose, and then travel to the brain and cause deadly inflammation of the brain and the membrane that surrounds it.

Infections with Naegleria fowleri are rare – in the 10 years from 2003 to 2012, 31 infections were reported in the United States, according to the CDC. But most people who become infected don’t survive.

Lyme disease

Deer ticks that carry the Lyme disease bacteria are most active during the spring, early summer and fall. They ticks favor shady, humid environments, and can be found clinging to grass, in lawns and gardens, at the edges of woods, and in old stone walls, according to New York’s Department of Health.

To protect yourself from tick bites and Lyme disease, avoid walking in places where ticks are likely to live, and use insect repellents and skin covering clothing.

Poison ivy, sumac and oak

Some 80 to 90 percent of people are allergic to an oil in the sap of plants such as poison ivy, poison sumac and poison oak, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

People are more likely to come into contact with these plants in summertime when they are more common. The allergic reaction causes a painful and itching rash, which can often be treated with over-the-counter topical lotions and antihistamines. Learning about how these plants look like can help avoiding contact.

Ear Infection

Swimmer’s ear, also called otitis externa, is a common infection of the outer ear canal that results in about 2.4 million doctor’s visits and $500 million in health care costs each year, according to the CDC.

To prevent getting an ear infection from organisms living in the water, use a bathing cap or ear plug when swimming, and dry your ears well with a towel after swimming. Leave your ear wax alone, though, because it helps protect your ear canal from infection.


Extreme heat kills about 650 Americans yearly, and sends many more to emergency rooms, according to the CDC. To put things into perspective, between 1979 and 2003 more people have died from extreme heat than from tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes combined.

Extreme heat causes hyperthermia, a condition in which a person’s body absorbs more heat than it dissipates. Hyperthermia can lead to dangerously high body temperatures that require medical attention.

To stay safe, the CDC recommends using air conditioning during hot summer days, keeping hydrated, and checking at least twice a day on the elderly and those who have other medical conditions that put them at higher risk for heat-related problems. Also, never leave children, or pets, in a parked car.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a viral infection that usually affects children younger than 5 years old, but can occur in adults too. Patients experience fever, mouth sores, and a skin rash, according to the CDC.

There’s no vaccine to protect against the viruses that cause hand, foot, and mouth disease, but maintaining personal hygiene such as washing hands and disinfecting common surfaces or toys can lower the risk of infection.

Kidney stones

Another thing to be wary of during the summer is dehydration, which doctors say contributes to a peak in number of people developing kidney stones.

As you sweat, the body loses water and makes less urine, which allows for stone-causing minerals to form stones in the kidneys and urinary tract.


This virus, carried by rodents, can cause a rare but deadly disease called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. During summer months when people spend more time outdoors, they are more likely to come in contact with droppings of infected rodents, and become infected. Also, when fresh rodent urine or droppings are stirred up, tiny droplets containing the virus get into the air and can infect people through inhalation. 

To avoid contact with the virus, people are advised to keep their homes and workplace rodent-free and be cautious of mouse activity in campsites, parks and cabins where they plan to spend time.

Email Bahar Gholipour or follow her @alterwired. Follow us @LiveScience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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10 Health Woes Summer Can Bring

Veterinarian says dogs immune to poison ivy


Veterinarian says dogs immune to poison ivy

Healthcheck: Dealing with poison ivy

Action News

Umar Mycka isn’t your average gardener.

“I’m a poison ivy horticulturalist,” he says, “a gardener who specializes in poison ivy removal.”

What Mycka does makes other cringe: wading into backyards and parks filled with the poisonous plant, and digging it out.

He says that while most people can identify its “leaves of three,” they don’t understand how it grows, so they get rashes over and over again.

For one thing, it takes root fast, and spreads quickly. A 2-year-old plant can have a 20-foot vine.

In one yard, a handful of sprigs above ground were hiding a 30-foot vine just below the soil.

“It was under the shrubs,” said Mycka, “under the English ivy. It was under pachysandra. Weed killer only killed the top leaves, not the vine below.”

About 85 percent of us have a reaction to the oil that’s on poison ivy’s leaves and vines.

“It does penetrate your skin,” says Mycka. “It goes into the lower layers of the skin, and it combines with a protein in the skin. You want to get that off before it happens.”

Mycka says you’ve got about 10 minutes to wash it off with lots of soap and water, or wipe it off with rubbing alcohol.

If you do get a rash, contrary to common belief, it won’t spread if you scratch those itchy blisters.

But it will be with you for awhile. It takes 8 days to peak before it diminishes.

Experts remind us that there is normally a boom in poison ivy cases over Memorial Day weekend so beware!


Umar Mycka’s website: idontwantpoisonivy.com

(Copyright ©2013 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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Healthcheck: Dealing with poison ivy

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