Killings of 6 babies described during sentencing of Utah mom who pleaded guilty to murders

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PROVO, Utah -- Over the course of two hours, the murders of six newborn babies were described in graphic detail inside a Provo courtroom.

Four were suffocated, two were strangled and then all were stuffed inside boxes in the very house the killer, their mother, lived.

On Monday, Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman argued Megan Huntsman deserved life in prison for the crimes, the worst he had ever seen.

“I think she will probably be the most prolific serial killer at our Utah State Prison that I'm aware of right now,” Buhman said. “Six babies. Our hope is that she

never gets released.”

Fourth District Judge Darold McDade agreed during Huntsman’s sentencing hearing.  While prosecutors had requested Hunstman serve a 5 year-life sentence for each count concurrently, the judge ordered 3 of the 6 counts be served consecutively.

“I really thought I’d seen it all until this case came along,” McDade said. “I hoped I would not get this case.”

From the first murder in 1996 to the last in 2006, investigators said Huntsman was cold and calculating when she killed her babies at her Pleasant Grove home.

While Huntsman pleaded guilty to the crimes in February, Buhman wanted to make sure the case was heard in its entirety during the hearing.

A Pleasant Grove detective, who interviewed Huntsman after her arrest, took the stand to describe Huntsman’s confession to authorities.

“She says she had the babies, she would hold it for a short time, not more than a minute or two. She says that none of the babies were alive more than a minute or two. And then she said she used her thumbs, she described, she would show me,” said Detective Dan Beckstrom of the Pleasant Grove Police Department.

Following the murders, Beckstrom said Huntsman would hold the infants to make sure she could no longer feel a heartbeat. The bodies were then stuffed in plastic bags, some with towels or clothing, and placed inside boxes. Huntsman told investigators that she stored them in her garage to block any smell.

It was not until April 2014 that the remains were discovered.  Huntsman’s then estranged husband, the father of the children, was cleaning out the home with family when they found the infants.

Huntsman was expected to make a statement to the court, but instead elected her attorney to read it on her behalf.

"I honestly don't know what caused me to be so low that I could do these terrible things, or even how I was able to carry out these actions all by myself,” Huntsman wrote. “I know that I didn't feel strong enough to be a mother to these tiny babies. And in some small way, I wanted to avoid the terrible life that I would have given them.”

Family of Huntsman, including her mother and sister, also addressed the court.  They said Huntsman was not a monster, as she had been depicted in the media. A meth and alcohol addiction, as well as an unstable relationship, changed Huntsman into someone they no longer recognized.

Huntsman has three living daughters, who sent letters of support to the court.

“This is not the Mom I know,” said one of Huntsman’s daughters. “The Mom I know was the one who had dinner for us every night, a clean house.”

Because Huntsman’s crimes were committed years ago, the court was limited in sentencing.  According to prosecutors, under today’s statute, Huntsman would have faced life without parole or the death penalty for the killings.

Under the sentence she received, Huntsman must serve 20 years before she is eligible for parole. However, Buhman said the Board of Pardons would likely not consider Huntsman for parole until 30 years. Even then, they are confident she would not be released.

“She used her own hands to strangle and smother six of her babies, and it's hard to imagine anything more heinous than that,” Buhman said.