A North Hills, Pennsylvania, mother who drowned her two young sons was sentenced Wednesday to 30 to 80 years in prison.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Laurel Schlemmer, 44, was found guilty but mentally ill in March to two counts of third-degree murder. Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning said that Wednesday’s sentence is “a de facto life sentence—as it should be for the taking of two innocent lives.”
Judge Manning sentenced Schlemmer 15 to 40 years in prison for each murder, which will be served consecutively.
On April 1, 2014, Schlemmer took her 7-year-old son, Joshua, to the school bus and returned home to her two other sons. She claimed she heard “crazy voices” that instructed her to put Daniel, 6, and Luke, 3, in the bath, hold their heads underwater, and sit on them, according to the Tribune-Review.
The mother of three then reportedly took the unresponsive boys out the tub, combed their hair, and placed them on the bathroom floor before disposing of their clothes. Luke died the same day, and Daniel perished four days later.
Schlemmer told officers that she carried out the unthinkable murders so that she could be a better mother to Joshua, according to PennLive. A defense attorney argued that his Schlemmer’s reduced mental capacity meant she lacked the intent to kill Daniel and Luke.
The Post-Gazette noted that the victims’ names weren’t uttered during court proceedings.
“I wanted to make sure people knew the names of Daniel and Luke Schlemmer, the two boys who are no longer with us as a result of this crime,” Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Mike Manko told reporters.
“It’s almost inconceivable that their names were not mentioned during the sentencing hearing … We lost two young boys as a result of this crime. We will never know what they could have amounted to. what they could have accomplished and what wonderful lives they probably would have led if not for the actions of this defendant.”
Schlemmer won’t be eligible for parole until she’s in her 70s. In court, she thanked the judge for sending her to the hospital immediately following the slayings and revealed she is still undergoing psychiatric counseling.
“No one could be more grieved than me,” she said. “I wish I could undo the harm I have caused and have our precious boys back, but I cannot fix the situation.”
[Featured Image: Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office]