44-year-old housewife Monika Halbe was handed a four year and three month prison sentence for manslaughter after admitting to hiding the bodies of three baby girls in the family freezer. However, she denied killing them.
The macabre case made national headlines in May after the defendant’s teenage son discovered the girls’ tiny corpses in plastic bags when looking for a pizza in the basement freezer.
Prosecutors had demanded eight and half years in prison for Halbe at the start of the trial in this western town. Halbe’s lawyer Andreas Bartholome had asked that his client be acquitted or given a suspended jail sentence, noting that Halbe, who already had three children, had been deeply ambivalent about having more babies and was also terrified of doctors and had suffered from alcoholism.
Prosecutors charged her with two counts of manslaughter for killing one daughter in 1988 and another between 2003 and 2007. A third girl is believed to have been killed in 1986 or 1987.
“She was not afraid of the babies being found,” Bartholome said. “Above all, she wanted to have the babies near her.” Halbe’s husband and the family’s three grown children said they had been unaware of the pregnancies. The grim case revived a debate about the state of child welfare in Germany after several high-profile cases of killings by mothers came to light.