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October 18, 2021

Babysitter fatally stabbed Pennsylvania woman after 'adverse reaction' to marijuana cookies, police say

Lavrius O'Brian Watson, 26, was charged with criminal homicide in the death of a Monroe County mother

Investigations Homicide
Marijuana Edibles Pennsylvania Stabbing Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

A Pocono Summit man told Pennsylvania State Police that he stabbed a woman to death at her home in Nuangola, Monroe County after they had both consumed edible marijuana cookies and he had an adverse reaction, investigators said.

A Pennsylvania man accused of fatally stabbing a woman at her Monroe County home last weekend may have had a "bad trip" after consuming edible marijuana cookies, authorities said.

Lavrius O'Brian Watson, 26, of Pocono Summit, was charged Saturday with criminal homicide in the death of 41-year-old Elizabeth Bennett Leonard. Watson had been babysitting Leonard's two children in recent weeks and had known the victim for seven years, he told Pennsylvania State Police.

Police were called to Leonard's home in Nuangola around 12:30 a.m. for a report of a domestic disturbance. Watson allegedly had called 911 to request an ambulance, telling a dispatcher, "Somebody got killed," according to charging documents obtained by The Citizens' Voice.

When officers from Rice Township, Wright Township and Fairview Township responded to the home, Watson allegedly exited the property covered in blood.

Inside the home, police found Leonard bleeding and unresponsive with severe abdominal wounds. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Leonard's 10-year-old son was at the home at the time of the incident, police said.

Watson told investigators that he had been watching Leonard's children on Friday. One of the kids left the home that afternoon, and then Leonard returned home, police said. After Watson and Leonard took the remaining child out for dinner, the two adults allegedly ate edible marijuana cookies.

Watson allegedly told police he had an "adverse reaction" to the cookies. He grabbed a knife from a kitchen drawer and stabbing Leonard five times, police said.

Marijuana edibles have sometimes loosely been blamed for aggressive or erratic behavior, in part because the method of ingestion, compared to smoking, may tempt users to take more than they can handle. The effect of the drug is delayed when ingested, which may prompt people to eat more before they feel intoxicated. 

A more compelling link between violence and marijuana, usually known for its mellowing effect, has been explored with mixed conclusions. A number of factors make a causal relationship difficult to prove.

Watson is being held at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility ahead of a preliminary hearing set for Oct. 28.