NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A Tennessee woman convicted of murdering her newborn twins was sentenced Friday to a minimum of 51 years in prison, despite her family pleading with the judge who said he found the 26-year-old untruthful and selfish.
Lindsey Lowe was convicted last month of felony murder, premeditated murder and aggravated child abuse. The murder charges carry an automatic life sentence.
At a Friday hearing in Gallatin, Sumner County Criminal Court Judge Dee David Gay sentenced Lowe to the maximum 25 years on each of the aggravated child abuse charges. However, Gay ordered the sentences for murder and child abuse to be served at the same time, not tacked on.
The courtroom was packed with Lowe's friends and family, several of whom gave emotional testimony on her behalf.
Lowe, wearing a blue prison shirt and handcuffs, also read a statement expressing her regret. She did not testify at trial.
She gave birth to the twin boys in the bathroom of her parents' home in an upper-middle-class neighborhood in Hendersonville, about 20 miles northeast of Nashville on the night of Sept. 12, 2011. She told police she smothered them and placed them in a laundry basket so that her parents would not hear their cries. Lowe's parents found one of the babies two days later and alerted police.
Lowe said she still doesn't fully comprehend what happened that night, but said she takes responsibility for her actions.
"I cannot explain why I put my babies in a laundry basket, or what was going through my mind," she said.
At trial, Lowe's attorney said she did not smother the babies and suggested they might have died of hypothermia or suffocated in the toilet while Lowe was passed out after the birth.
Friends and family testified at the hearing that Lowe was a loving friend and daughter who had always been helpful and dependable. Friend Liz Kee, who grew up with Lowe, said she would trust Lowe with her life.
In ordering the maximum sentence on the child abuse charges, Gay said he found Lowe to be untruthful and selfish and called it a tragedy that so many people believe her version of events.
Gay said Lowe's statement in a letter to the judge claiming she did not know she was pregnant was "not credible," and he chided her for writing that the babies' father had date-raped her.
"Just how in the world is that relevant?" he asked. "And is it supposed to devalue the lives of these children?...There are real serious problems in you taking responsibility for what you did."
Gay quoted Focus on the Family founder James Dobson saying, "Our children are the true wealth of any nation" and added that we cannot become "a child-killing society that views children as burdens rather than blessings."
Gay said Lowe's selfishness was reflected in her cheating on her fiance in the affair that led to her pregnancy and her "completely neglecting the work of creation in her body."
He also read off a list of Web searches for pornographic websites made on Lowe's computer in the month before she gave birth, suggesting that it showed where her priorities lay.
Despite his admonitions, Gay said he could not sentence Lowe to serve the sentences consecutively because he could not find that she posed a danger to society, one of the necessary legal factors.