PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – A mother from McCandless charged with drowning her two youngest sons in their bathtub has been found guilty of two counts of third-degree murder but mentally ill.
Allegheny County Judge Jeffrey Manning delivered his verdict Thursday afternoon in Pittsburgh after hearing three days of testimony and arguments last week involving 43-year-old Laurel Schlemmer.
In announcing his verdict the judge said:
“It is my fervent hope that in the future, mental health treatment will bring you, Mrs. Schlemmer, to the shocking realization of what you have done so that you will continue to be punished far beyond any sentence this court might impose.”
Schlemmer now faces up to 40 years in prison per child when she is sentenced June 8.
The McCandless woman’s attorney had argued her diminished mental capacity kept her from forming the intent to kill her sons, 6-year-old Daniel and 3-year-old Luke, in April 2014.
“Mental health issue or mental illness, as Judge Manning said on numerous occasions, is the most salient point. We need some help with mental illness,” said defense attorney Michael Machen.
Schlemmer, who cried in the courtroom today, according to the prosecution, believed she would be a better mother to her remaining son, if the other two were in heaven.
Her husband, Mark, was not in court for the verdict, but a close family friend released a statement.
“We do not condone or excuse what she did; we want people to know that she is not heartless, but a beloved child of God who sadly was suffering from mental illness.”
The verdict ensures she will receive mental health treatments for as long as deemed necessary.
Schlemmer has told police she killed the boys so she could be a better mother to their elder brother, who was 7 at the time.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)