German woman gets 14 years in jail
A German woman was sentenced to 14 years in prison for murdering four of her babies. In this picture, a gravedigger carries the coffin of a baby killed by a landslide in Teresopolis, Brazil, Jan 14, 2011. REUTERS/BRUNO DOMINGOS

A German court sentenced a woman Wednesday to 14 years in prison for killing four babies in what is described as one of the worst cases of infanticides in the country.

Andrea Göppner was found guilty of murdering four of her newborns by wrapping them in towels and plastic bags last year, reports said. The murders took place between 2003 and 2013. Göppner estranged husband Johann was acquitted on charges of complicity for failing to stop his wife from killing the babies. Prosecutors at the court in Coburg city demanded that Andrea Goppner be sentenced to life.

“When a case like this is tried, you suddenly have a lot of people who know what the right thing to do is – that a supposed ‘horror mother’ should be locked away forever,” presiding judge Christoph Gillot said, defending his decision not to sentence Göppner to life imprisonment.

“But we first must try to understand this behavior. That doesn’t mean justifying it but rather trying to comprehend it,” he added.

The killings came to light when authorities received a tip-off from one of Göppners’ neighbors. The bodies were found at their home in Wallenfels in Bavaria. Andrea Göppner was originally suspected of killing up to eight of her babies.

Prosecutors, however, couldn’t pursue murder charges for the other four babies since one was found to have been stillborn while the bodies of the other three were too badly decomposed making it unclear if they were viable at birth.

Prosecutors accused the Göppners of “sexual selfishness, indifference and callousness” in their handling of the subsequent pregnancies since the pair continued to have unprotected sexual relations despite not wanting any more children.

Both Göppners each had two children from previous marriages and conceived three more surviving children during the course of their marriage.

The 45-year-old Andrea Göppner confessed during the trial. Her lawyer read out a statement by Göppner wherein she admitted to murdering her babies, but did not remember how many. She claimed to have given birth to all of the eight at home when she was alone. She said that she suffocated the babies and then placed the body in a plastic bag or container, which she would hide in her apartment.