|Geann Pineda |||Apr 21, 2015 10:05 AM EDT|
(Photo : Reuters) Megan Huntsman, mother who killed six of her newborn babies and hid their bodies in her garage was sentenced to up to life in prison on Monday. Photo of Huntsman when she appeared in court in Provo, Utah, April 28, 2014.
A Utah mother who killed six of her newborn babies and hid them all in her garage gets a life sentence on Monday.
Megan Huntsman, who prosecutors described as an "incredibly indifferent and callous" murderer, admitted to killing her babies in a span of a decade. She said she had no capacity to care for more children as she was too addicted to methamphetamine at the time of her pregnancies.
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Judge Darold McDade gave Huntsman the maximum sentence of at least 30 years to life in prison. The sentence was way beyond an agreed plea deal, which ranged from a minimum of five years to life in prison. McDade said he was too sickened by Huntsman's acts, prompting him to give her a longer minimum sentence. A parole board will determine how much time she is spending in prison.
Huntsman could not find the words to explain the deaths of her babies. She would often appear lacking in emotion, but at times could be seen wiping tears off her eyes.
"I know I didn't feel strong enough to be a mother to those tiny babies, and in some small way I wanted to help them avoid the terrible life I would have given them," said defense attorney Anthony Howell as he read a letter Huntsman wrote.
"I deprived my little babies of the opportunity of life. ... Those babies aren't coming back, and they never will because of my actions," Howell added as he continued to read on.
Police said Huntsman concealed all her pregnancies from 1996 to 2006 and gave birth at home. She even managed to deliver two of her babies, despite the presence of other people in her home.
Huntsman choked and strangled the newborns using her own hands minutes after they were born. She wrapped all six babies in cloth, placed in plastic bags, packed into boxes and hid them in her garage. A seventh baby was also found, but it was stillborn.
Huntsman left the bodies in the garage when she moved out of the house. Huntsman's estranged husband, Darren West, discovered the bodies after he finished an eight-year federal prison term on methamphetamine charges. However, police said West is not being investigated for the killings.
West and Huntsman had three children together. Family members turned emotional in the courtroom as Pleasant Grove police detailed the killings.
Huntsman's sister Jamie read a letter written by one of the couple's children who described their mother as always smiling and laughing.
"This is not the mom I know," Jamie Huntsman read. "I remember the mom I know, the one that made dinner for us every night, cleaned our house and loved not only her kids but kids in general," the letter read.
Huntsman's sentence has brought an end to a case that sent residents of Pleasant Grove chilling as they hear details of the killings. Pleasant Grove is located south of Salt Lake City and is home to Mormon communities.
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