GALLATIN, Tenn. (AP) — A jury found a 26-year-old Tennessee woman guilty of murder Tuesday in the 2011 smothering deaths of newborn twins found in her laundry basket.
The jury of seven men and five women convicted Lindsey Lowe, of suburban Nashville, of felony murder, premeditated murder and aggravated child abuse. She was immediately sentenced to life in prison by the judge.
Lowe, who was often emotional at trial, didn't break down as the sentence was pronounced. She was dry-eyed when she turned to sobbing family members and friends in the courtroom before being taken into custody.
The defendant, who toted a Bible throughout much of the seven-day trial, told them softly, "I'm OK. I love you all. He's with me," as she pointed toward the sky.
At trial, jurors saw a video of Lowe telling police she had given birth alone on Sept. 12, 2011, in the bathroom of her parents' home on a quiet cul-de-sac in an upper-middle-class neighborhood.
The bodies weren't found until two days later. A family member discovered one baby dead in a laundry basket at the home in Hendersonville, 20 miles northeast of Nashville. When police arrived to investigate, officers found the second body under a bloody sheet in the same basket.
Lowe was engaged at the time but became pregnant during an affair with another man, jurors were told. She hid the pregnancy from her family and friends, and the defense and prosecution offered competing arguments as to why.
Hendersonville Police Detective Steve Malach testified that Lowe told him during an interrogation that she had kept her pregnancy secret so as not to disappoint her fiance or add to the stress of a family member's illness. In a video of the interrogation, Lowe said she "maybe" smothered the babies.
"I was just trying to keep them quiet," she said on the video.
Two police officers who found the babies in Lowe's laundry basket were barely able to contain their emotions as they recalled the events on the witness stand.
Officer Jeremy Fentress described pulling back a bloody towel. He then had to stop speaking for a few seconds before continuing: "After I pulled the bloody towel back, I saw a deceased infant."
Fentress said he touched the baby with two fingers and found the infant was cold and not breathing.
The second was found by Sgt. James Garrett, who fought back tears as he described how the two babies were still attached by their umbilical cords to a single placenta.
Prosecutors also introduced graphic autopsy photographs of the infants.
Det. Malach testified that police searched the home thoroughly but found no evidence that Lowe had made any plans for the birth.
The defense argued that Lowe's confession was not reliable because she was "divorced from reality" at the time.
Psychiatrist Dr. William Kenner testified for the defense that Lowe had blocked out her pregnancy, then suffered shock and delirium from blood loss after she gave birth.
"Lindsey Lowe was pregnant, but she refused to accept it, her mind refused to accept it," defense attorney John Pellegrin had told the jury.
Prosecutor Ray Whitley countered that by presenting evidence of Internet searches on Lowe's iPhone for information on inducing labor.
Family, friends and church members, who have rallied to support Lowe, were sobbing after the verdict was read by Judge Dee David Gay.
The two murder convictions both carry a life sentence, which in Tennessee means Lowe will serve a mandatory 51 years in prison. Judge Dee Gay will rule on whether the two sentences will be served concurrently or consecutively at an April hearing. Gee will also determine whether Lowe must serve additional time for the aggravated child abuse conviction.
Defense attorney Pellegrin declined to comment after the verdict.
District Attorney General Ray Whitley sad it was a "sad situation for a young lady to get a life sentence, but she's the one who did it."
Lowe's father, Mark, and sister, Lacey, testified on her behalf during the trial, both saying no one knew she was pregnant. The sister said they both had been in a wedding just days before the birth and Lindsey Lowe didn't appear pregnant when she undressed in front of other women in the wedding party.
The defendant didn't testify. "I just don't feel like I can emotionally handle it," she told the judge Monday, while fighting back tears.