Indiana Mother Sentenced to Life in Prison for Killing 4 Children

An Elkhart woman who pleaded guilty to strangling her four young children was sentenced Monday to life in prison without parole in each child's death.

Angelica Alvarez, 27, told Elkhart Circuit Judge Terry Shewmaker she repented for what she had done and accepted responsibility for the murders of Jennifer Lopez, 8, Gonzalo Lopez, 6, Daniel Valdez, 4, and Jessica Valdez, 2, on Nov. 14, 2006.

Alvarez pleaded guilty to four counts of murder on Sept. 4 in return for Prosecutor Curtis Hill Jr. agreeing not to seek the death penalty.

She described during a court hearing that day how she took the children to the basement of her home in Elkhart, about 15 miles east of South Bend, and gave them sleeping pills before strangling them with her hands. She then tried to hang herself with an electrical cord from a lamp. When that didn't work, Alvarez said, she took sleeping pills, leaving a note saying the children would be better off in heaven.

Prosecutors challenged her account in court Monday, saying toxicology reports indicated the children had not been given sleeping pills. They also said a cord mark was on at least one child's neck.

The father of the two older children, Gonzalo Lopez, spoke at the sentencing hearing and said he's found peace with God and doesn't hate Alvarez.

Outside the courtroom, he said through a translator that the deaths of his children hit him hard.

"We're moving forward little by little on a very hard road because it's not easy," he said.

Alvarez entered the guilty plea after Shewmaker found her competent to stand trial.