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Judge convicts woman of killing 4 daughters

A judge found a District of Columbia woman guilty of killing her four daughters and living with their mummified bodies for months in a case that brought scrutiny to the city's child welfare system.

world Updated: Jul 30, 2009 11:44 IST

A judge found a District of Columbia woman guilty of killing her four daughters and living with their mummified bodies for months in a case that brought scrutiny to the city's child welfare system.

Banita Jacks, 34, was yesterday convicted of four counts of felony murder, three counts of premeditated first-degree murder and four counts of first-degree child cruelty. She was acquitted of one count of premeditated first-degree murder in the death of her oldest daughter.

DC Superior Court Judge Frederick H Weisberg decided the case himself after Jacks waived her right to a jury trial. Bench trials are rare in murder cases, said Benjamin Friedman, a spokesman for the US Attorney's Office in Washington.

Before reading the verdict, Weisberg said the case was one of his most challenging in three decades as a judge.

"It was a very lonely assignment," he said. At the end of the hearing, he buried his face in his hands.

Jacks faces life in prison when she is sentenced October 16.

US Marshal deputies discovered the girls' decomposing bodies in January 2008 while carrying out an eviction at their mother's southeast Washington row house. The girls are believed to have been ages 5 to 16.

In a lengthy interview with police, she said her daughters were possessed by demons and inexplicably died one by one in their sleep. She believed they would be resurrected.