Paris: A Frenchwoman accused of killing eight of her newborns over more than a decade has been sentenced to nine years in prison after a dramatic murder trial.
After deliberating a few hours in the northern city of Douai, the jury returned its verdict today half as long as the 18-year prison term prosecutors had asked for Dominique Cottrez, a 51-year-old married mother.
In the worst infanticide case in modern French history, the jury decided Cottrez's judgment was impaired at the time of the killings. They convicted her of seven counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder for the first baby she killed in 1989. The last was killed in 2000.
"She expressed her satisfaction, the relief of being heard for the first time, of being understood for the first time, of the possibility of being helped," said her lawyer, Franck Berton.
The new owner of the Cottrez house, in a village in northern France, found a body, called police and discovered a second baby buried in the garden. Then Cottrez revealed she had hidden other corpses in the garage, but she didn't know how many.
For more than four years, Cottrez convinced police investigators, psychiatric experts, the judge and lawyers of a false story that she had been raped by her father as a child and was involved with him in a long, incestuous relationship even while being married.
In court, she initially said she killed her babies because she feared they were the product of incest.
But on Monday, she confessed to the court she hadn't been raped by her father, her lawyers said. He died in 2007.
Cottrez' obesity hid the pregnancies, which apparently went unnoticed by her husband, children, neighbors and even doctors at a nearby hospital.