Tennessee mother, 34, is sentenced to life in prison for stabbing her four children to death in 2016 after judge rejects insanity plea
The young victims were listed as Sya, 3, Tallen, 4, Sahvi, 2, and 5-months-old Yahzi
In a non-jury trial in Dec., she was found guilty on four counts each of premeditated first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated child neglect involving a deadly weapon
Criminal Court Judge James Lammey Jr. sentenced Shanynthia Gardner to concurrent life sentences on each murder count with the possibility of parole on Tuesday
She also received sentences of 15 years on each of the other counts
Gardner had admitted to the killings in a phone call with her husband, Martin, and her defense attorneys had argued an insanity plea
Judge dismissed her insanity defense, after prosecutors agreed she has a mental disease but said she understood the wrongfulness of her actions
Another child, who was 7 at the time, escaped to a neighbor’s home for help
A Tennessee woman convicted of stabbing her four children to death was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday after a judge rejected her insanity plea.
Criminal Court Judge James Lammey Jr. sentenced Shanynthia Gardner, 34, to life in prison with the possibility of parole on Tuesday for the 2016 slayings of her children, ages 4, 3, 2 and 5 months.
They all had stab wounds in their necks and were pronounced dead at the scene, ABC 24 reports.
Another child, who was 7 at the time, escaped to a neighbor´s home for help, the Shelby County district attorney´s office said.
The stabbings happened on July 1, 2016 at the family’s apartment near Hacks Cross and Shelby Drive in Memphis, TN.
Gardner, who had worked at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at the time, had admitted to the fatal stabbings while talking to her husband on the phone, according to FOX 13 Memphis.
Her lawyers presented an insanity defense, but the judge rejected it. Prosecutors agreed she has a mental disease but said she understood the wrongfulness of her actions, the district attorney’s office said.
She was found guilty in December of four counts each of premeditated first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, murder in the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect involving a deadly weapon and murder in the perpetration of aggravated child neglect involving a deadly weapon. Lammey sentenced Gardner to life on each murder count and to 15 years on each of the other counts, to run concurrently.
She could be released on parole after she serves a total of 51 years, five of which she has already served, and can file a motion for an appeal after 45 days. The victims included Sya, 3; Tallen, 4; Sahvi, 2; and Yahzi, 5-months-old
The harrowing deaths occurred on July 1, 2016 at around 12.50pm, when officers in Memphis were called to her gated community and found five-month-old Yahzi dead in a baby carrier in the living room, with her three-year-old sister, Sya, next to her.
In a nearby bedroom, deputies found Sahvi, 2, lying on a mattress and her four-year-old brother, Tallen, on the floor next to her.
Deputies also found Shanynthia with superficial cuts to her neck and wrists, according to an affidavit. Meanwhile, 7-year-old Dallen Clayton was able to escape the violent attack, and flagged down a nearby pedestrian, telling the man that his mother had just stabbed his sister, the affidavit alleges.
That man later told police that right after Dallen approached him, he saw Gardner exit her apartment with a large knife in one hand, according to Law and Crime.
He reportedly said that after she spotted him, she turned around and went back inside her apartment.
The father of the children, Martin Gardner, was held at the scene by law enforcement following the incident, although officials told WSMV that he was not in the home at the time the children were stabbed.
He reportedly told investigators that his wife had been having a rough time, and thought ‘someone is trying to harm her and her family.’
Gardner has remained in prison since the murders of her children, and a non-jury trial for the slayings began late last year.
In December, Criminal Court Judge James Lammey Jr. found her guilty on 20 counts.
Eric Christensen, of the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, confirmed to Law and Crime that life in sentence was the maximum sentence Gardner could face as the state did not seek the death penalty.
He added that the prosecution agreed to the sentence with Gardner’s defense attorney following her conviction in December.
‘I think it’s a just sentence,’ he said. ‘I mean we had four victims that were brutally stabbed and murdered, so I think it represents justice for those little babies.
‘It was important for us to get justice for Martin Gardner and his four beautiful children Tallen, Sya, Sahvi and Yahzi.’