SAN FRANCISCO – A woman convicted of assault charges for dropping her three young boys into San Francisco Bay still faces more serious charges in their deaths.
Jurors were to continue deliberating Wednesday to determine whether Lashuan Harris, 24, is guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter. They acquitted her of first-degree murder before recessing Tuesday.
Harris pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to all charges related to the deaths of 6-year-old Trayshawn Harris, 2-year-old Taronta Greely Jr. and 16-month-old Joshua Greely. She threw the boys into the chilly bay waters on Oct. 19, 2005.
Tuesday's verdicts did not make any determination about Harris' sanity. If prosecutors and defense attorneys do not work out an agreement that would send her to a mental hospital instead of prison, the same jury would convene to decide whether Harris was legally sane at the time of her children's deaths.
The three charges on which Harris was convicted — assault of a child causing death — carry prison sentences of 25 years to life.
Defense attorney Teresa Caffese said she was relieved jurors concluded that Harris did not kill her children in a premeditated act.
"My client is mentally ill. She is medicated. She needs help. She needs to be in a mental hospital," Caffese said.
Harris, unshackled and wearing a powder blue pantsuit, was in the courtroom but did not speak when the verdicts were read Tuesday.
Prosecutors declined to comment.
In her videotaped confession, Harris described how she struggled with two of her boys as she stripped them and plunged them from Pier 7, where tourists stroll along the waterfront. Her youngest boy laughed, thinking it was a game, she said.
The city fire department and the Coast Guard scoured the bay for days for a sign of the children. One body was recovered, but the others were never found.
During the two-week trial, Caffese argued that Harris was a diagnosed schizophrenic and was borderline mentally retarded, and that she believed she was sending her children to heaven.
But prosecutors argued that even if Harris believed God had instructed her to make a human sacrifice, she made a choice when she elected to kill the children instead of herself and therefore should be found guilty of murder.