Shelby County, Tenn. — Four children, six months, two, three, and 4 years old, mere babies when officers say their 29-year- old mother, Shanynthia Gardner, did the unthinkable in July 2016.
She is charged with stabbing the children to death inside their apartment at Hacks Cross Road near Shelby Drive.
An older fifth child survived when he ran out of the apartment screaming for help.
“I know that it wasn’t her. I know this is the work of the devil,” said a woman who came to the scene of the crime back in 2016.
No one ever said what prompted the vicious attack. But shortly after her arrest Gardner’s attorney hinted that it would become a mental case.
Some who knew Gardner agreed.
“I truly believe when she did what she did, when she did it, she was not in her right mind,” said a man who knew Gardner.
Gardner had several mental evaluations and has still not gone to trial. The district attorney’s office says it has taken a while because of multiple victims, mental evaluations, and COVID which caused the August 2019 trial to be reset last year.
But we have learned that Gardner will be back in court in October 25th of this year. We called her defense attorney to ask if he plans to make this a mental case but we haven’t heard back.
In a court filing last August, he gave notice he would seek an insanity defense.
But state law also says Mental Disease does not necessarily constitute a defense. The defendant has to prove insanity by convincing evidence.
In 2018, Gardner’s attorney also hinted he would seek a bench trial where the judge rules as opposed to a jury. Questions were raised as to whether a jury could be sympathetic with mental issues in such a heinous crime.
“I do believe that with depression and mental illness, it’s something that we will sometimes brush under the rug and forget about it and go along as if nothing is wrong,” said a person who knew Gardner.
Gardner is facing 16 counts, everything from child abuse to murder, in the deaths of her four children.