KEY POINTS

  • A mother and daughter will spend five consecutive life sentences for killing five family members last year
  • Shana and Dominque Decree plead guilty but mentally ill to the murders, which included three children
  • Both were charged with five counts first-degree murder and one count of criminal conspiracy

A Pennsylvania mother and her daughter have pleaded guilty for the grisly murder of five family members last year.

Shana Decree and her daughter, Dominque, were accused of killing their relatives, including three children, at their apartment in Morrisville, Philadelphia between February 23 and 25, 2019. Both women originally pled not guilty for the charges filed against them, CNN reported.

The victims were Shana’s two other children, Naa’lrah Smith, 25, and Damon Decree, Jr., 13; her sister, Jamilla Campbell, 42, and Campbell’s 9-year0-old twin daughters, Imani and Erika Allen.

Courtroom This photo shows a view of the defendant's table in a courtroom closed due to budget cuts and layoffs, at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles on March 16, 2009. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

The bodies of the victims were found in a bedroom inside a unit of the Roberts Morris Apartments, the same complex where the suspects resided. Autopsies later determined that Imani, Erika, Damon, Jr. and Smith were killed by asphyxia, while Campbell died by ligature strangulation. All five deaths were ruled as homicides, said the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office.

Shana and Dominque plead guilty but mentally ill to five counts of first-degree murder and one count of criminal conspiracy Monday. Both will serve five consecutive life sentences and “avoid the death penalty” as part of their plea deal.

President Judge Wallace H. Bateman, Jr. described the crime as “horrific and sad at the same time.”

“She was very remorseful and pleasant to deal with. It’s very troubling for me. One of the hardest cases I’ve ever had and I’ve been doing this a long time,” Dominque’s lawyer, John Fioravanti, Jr., told CNN in a separate article.

Preliminary investigation claimed that Shana and Dominque told investigators that all five victims “wanted to die.” The pair also gave “differing accounts of who killed who” and were found “disoriented” by the police. Both were brought to a hospital thereafter.

Mental health professionals said the pair were guilty but mentally ill during the time of the murders.

“Were it not for their severe mental illness, both would face the death penalty. As it stands, they both will spend the rest of their lives in prison cells separated from the rest of us, as punishment” said District Attorney Matt Weintraub adding that Shana and Dominque “decimated entire generations of their own family.”