MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In a bench ruling Tuesday, Shanynthia Gardner was found guilty on multiple charges relating to the murder of four of her children in 2016, rejecting her insanity defense.
Criminal Court Judge James Lammey Jr. said that Gardner, now 34, was able appreciate the culpability of her actions when she stabbed to death four of her children.
According to the District Attorney’s press release, Gardener was found guilty on, “four counts each of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, murder in the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect involving a deadly weapon, murder in the perpetration of aggravated child neglect involving a deadly weapon, aggravated child endangerment involving a deadly weapon and murder in the perpetration of aggravated child endangerment involving a deadly weapon.”
In the non-jury trial, Gardner’s attorneys had attempted to prove her not guilty by reason of insanity.
Judge James Lammey said he believes that she does have a mental illness and doesn’t believe she was insane at the time of the murder. State prosecutors had agreed that she had a mental disease, but understood what she did was wrong.
In a press release, Chief Prosecutor Eric Christensen from the District Attorney’s Special Victims Unit noted their commitment to the children.
“Our position from day one is that she has a mental disease, but we’ve always felt that she could appreciate the wrongfulness of her actions,” Christensen said in a press release. “Our goal was to get justice for these four babies – Tallen, Sya, Sahvi and Yazhi.”
On July 1, 2016, authorities discovered Tallen, Sya, Sahvi and Yazhi Gardner dead inside the family’s home near Hacks Cross Road and East Shelby Drive. All four had been stabbed to death.
Neighbors said Gardner’s 7-year-old had come running out of the house, screaming for help.
The judge told attorneys that they would have time to file motions regarding sentencing and new court date.
Attorneys said they’ve spoken with the children’s father and that he was satisfied with the verdict.
Sentencing is set for January 28. The DA’s office said each of the four first-degree murder charges carries a life sentence.