Pittsburgh woman accused in sons’ drowning deaths tried to kill them before, prosecutor says

Suspect Laurel Schlemmer, who is accused of drowning two of her sons in a bathtub in 2014, is escorted to the courtroom at the Allegheny County Courthouse for her nonjury trial on Wednesday, March 8.
Caption
Suspect Laurel Schlemmer, who is accused of drowning two of her sons in a bathtub in 2014, is escorted to the courtroom at the Allegheny County Courthouse for her nonjury trial on Wednesday, March 8.

Credit: The Associated Press

Credit: The Associated Press

The murder trial of a Pennsylvania woman accused of drowning her two young sons in a bathtub is underway in Pittsburgh.

Laurel Schlemmer, 43, is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of 6-year-old Daniel and 3-year-old Luke Schlemmer in April of 2014.

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After walking the oldest brother, who was 7 at the time, to a school bus stop, Schlemmer walked back to her house planning how to kill his brothers because she was convinced "that Daniel and Luke were not normal children" and that she'd be a better mother if the younger boys were "in heaven," Allegheny County Assistant District Attorney Lisa Pellegrino told the judge in her opening statement, according to The Associated Press.

Schlemmer’s attorney said during a pretrial hearing that he will try to prove that she was insane or operating under diminished mental capacity, the AP reported, but she was found mentally competent to stand trial after several stays at a state hospital.

Prosecutors said it wasn’t the first time that she tried to kill the boys. They said Wednesday that Schlemmer had tried to kill the boys before by leaving one in a hot vehicle and by running over both with her van while they were tied up with twine.

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The boys’ father, Mark Schlemmer, was at work at the time of the drowning, several news outlets reported.

If Schlemmer is convicted of the charges, she faces life in prison.