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Mother who stabbed 4 children to death will spend at least 51 years in prison

Shanynthia Gardner was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 51 years, for the 2016 killings.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The mother accused of stabbing her four children to death has been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

In a non-jury bench trial, Judge James Lammey rejected Shanynthia Gardner's insanity defense and she was found guilty in December 2021. Gardner was convicted on 20 counts – including charges of first-degree murder, child abuse, child neglect, and child endangerment.

Tuesday, Gardner was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after she serves a total of 51 years. That means she could be up for parole in about 46 years.

Credit: Shelby County Sheriff's Office
Shanynthia Gardner

The stabbings happened on July 1, 2016 at the family’s apartment near Hacks Cross and Shelby Drive. Prosecutors said Gardner stabbed four of her children ages five months to four years. Investigators said two children were found in a bedroom and two were in the living room - the youngest found in her car seat. The oldest child, who was 7 at the time, was able to escape and ran to a neighbor for help.

Credit: Johnesha McGhee

During the trial, prosecutors agreed Gardner has a mental illness, but said that she understood what she was doing was wrong.

Prosecutor Eric Christensen said they agreed to the sentence. They expect an appeal to be filed.

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