DC judge finds woman who lived with daughters’ decomposing bodies guilty of murder

DC judge convicts woman of killing 4 daughters

WASHINGTON — A judge found a District of Columbia woman guilty Wednesday of killing her four daughters.

Thirty-four-year-old Banita Jacks was convicted of four counts of felony murder, three counts of premeditated first-degree murder and four counts of first degree child cruelty. She was acquitted of one count of premeditated first-degree murder.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick H. Weisberg decided the case himself after Jacks waived her right to a jury trial.

U.S. Marshal deputies discovered the girls’ decomposing bodies in January 2008 while carrying out an eviction at Jacks’ southeast Washington row house. The girls are believed to have been ages 5 to 16 when they were killed.

Jacks was found not guilty of premeditated first-degree murder in the death of the oldest daughter, Brittany, because the judge said it was difficult to determine beyond a reasonable doubt that she died from what are believed to be stab wounds.

He said the younger three girls were strangled to death by Jacks.

Before reading his verdict, Weisberg said this was one of the “most challenging” cases he’s had in his 32 years as a judge.

“It was a very lonely assignment,” he said.

Jacks, who walked with a cane as she entered the courtroom, looked at Weisberg as he read his verdict but did not show any visible emotion.

Jacks’ public defender Peter Krauthmer said the defense would “pursue every appellate avenue available.”

Sentencing is set for Oct. 16.


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