Shanynthia Gardner: Tennessee mom, 34, gets life sentence for brutally killing her 4 kids
SHELBY COUNTY, TENNESSEE: A 34-year-old Tennessee woman was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday, February 8, for stabbing her four children to death in 2016. Shanynthia Gardner was sentenced after her insanity plea was rejected by a judge. Criminal Court Judge James Lammey Jr. sentenced Gardner to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Gardner's children, aged four, three, two, and 5 months, were found with stab wounds in their necks. They were pronounced dead at the scene. The Shelby County District Attorney´s Office said that another kid, who was seven in 2016, escaped in time to seek help. Back when the crime took place, Gardner worked at St Jude Children's Research Hospital. She admitted to killing the kids to her husband on the phone. The judge rejected an insanity defense that her lawyer argued. The district attorney's office said that although prosecutors agreed that Gardner was mentally unwell, she did understand that her actions were wrong.
In December, she was found guilty 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. She was sentenced to life on each murder count and to 15 years on each of the other counts, which will run concurrently. She is eligible for parole only after she has served a total of 51 years. She has already served five years.
What had happened?
On July 1, 2016, officers in Memphis responded to a call and arrived at the gated community Gardner lived in. They found five-month-old Yahzi dead in a baby carrier in the living room, along with her three-year-old sister Sya beside her. Deputies found Sahvi, aged two, lying on a mattress in one of the bedrooms. Tallen, four, was on the floor next to her. Gardner was found with superficial cuts to her neck and wrists, an affidavit claimed.
Seven-year-old Dallen Clayton managed to escape the attack. He ran to a pedestrian and told him his mother had stabbed his sister. The man told police that after Clayton approached him, he saw the mother step out of her apartment with a knife in her hand. She reportedly spotted them and went back inside her apartment.
Eric Christensen of the Shelby County District Attorney's Office said that a life sentence is the maximum Gardner could be given because the state did not seek the death penalty. "It was important for us to get justice for Martin Gardner and his four beautiful children Tallen, Sya, Sahvi and Yahzi," he said.