- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 20, 2001

WHEATON, Ill. (AP) A mother who drugged her three young children and then smothered them in their beds was found guilty of murder yesterday by a jury that rejected her claim of insanity.

Marilyn Lemak, 44, could get the death penalty in the 1999 slayings of Thomas, 3; Emily, 6; and Nicholas, 7.

Prosecutors said the former nurse knew what she was doing when she killed the children, contending she wanted to punish her husband over their pending divorce and because he had started seeing another woman.

The jury, which deliberated nine hours Tuesday and yesterday, rejected two alternative verdicts guilty but mentally ill and not guilty by reason of insanity.

Lemak showed no reaction as the verdicts were read.

"One of my first thoughts was: Why didn't she take me?" said her ex-husband, Dr. David Lemak.

Judge George Bakalis will sentence her at a later date. Lemak exercised her right to be sentenced by the judge rather than by the jury. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Authorities said the suburban Chicago woman fed her children peanut butter laced with her anti-anxiety medication, tucked them into bed, sang them a lullaby and then smothered them with her bare hands.

She then slashed her wrists with a knife and stabbed a photograph of her estranged husband with his new girlfriend.

In a 911 call, Lemak sobbed as she told the dispatcher: "My three kids are dead and I want to be dead, too, and it didn't work." When the dispatcher asked her why it happened, Lemak said: "My husband didn't want us anymore."

In closing arguments, defense attorney Jack Donahue referred to the children as three angels and called the killings "despicable and monstrous acts." But he asked the jury to concentrate on Lemak's mental state.

Prosecutors called Lemak's defense "psychobabble" and ridiculed as "a bunch of baloney" her claim that she wanted to kill her children and herself so they could be reunited in a better place.

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