Published January 13, 2015
A prosecutor sought a life sentence for a German woman accused of killing nine of her newborn babies, saying Tuesday that she "regularly and routinely" ended her children's lives.
Sabine Hilschinz, 40, was arrested after the remains of the infants were discovered last July, buried in flower pots and a fish tank in the garden of her parents' home near the German-Polish border.
She was charged with eight counts of manslaughter spanning the period from 1992 to 1998; the death of the first child, in 1988, is covered by the statute of limitations.
Hilschinz "killed regularly and routinely, and in serial fashion," Bargenda said. In several cases, she said the defendant left the newborns uncared for until they died — and that, she argued, constituted murder by neglect.
Before Hilschinz's trial began in April, the court dropped murder charges on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence the woman intended to hide her alleged crime.
Still, Bargenda contended that evidence heard at the trial contradicted the finding. She argued that Hilschinz had, on every occasion, covered up the pregnancies so that she could kill the children unnoticed.
Family members and friends testified that the pots with the remains stood for years on her balcony but were moved to her parents' home when Hilschinz was forced out of her apartment.
"The accused went to great effort to hide the evidence beneath flowers, herbs or tomatoes planted in the pots," Bargenda said. "The balcony increasingly became her cemetery."
Bargenda called for a life sentence. The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 15 years.
Defense lawyer Matthias Schoeneburg, however, called for Hilschinz to be convicted on one count of manslaughter and sentenced to 3 1/2 years.
Schoeneburg argued that it had not been possible to establish conclusively that seven of the babies were born alive.
Hilschinz has declined to testify at the trial, but she previously told investigators that she was drunk when she went into labor and could not remember the births.
The prosecutor argued that, had she been drunk, it was not credible to suggest she could have given birth, killed and disposed of the babies without being noticed.
Prosecutors have said DNA tests prove that the dead children were those of Hilschinz and her former husband.
Hilschinz has told investigators the couple already had three children and her husband did not want more, and that she always hoped he would notice the pregnancies.
Defense lawyer Schoeneburg argued that Hilschinz had been in an "exceptional psychological situation" because her husband wanted no more children.
During the trial, a court-appointed psychiatrist testified he found no evidence of mental illness, saying she was competent to face criminal charges.
A ruling was expected on Thursday.