PITTSBURGH (AP) - A woman accused of drowning her 2-year-old son in a suburban hotel bathtub to get back at her husband after a custody dispute was found guilty of first-degree murder on Friday.
After the jury verdict, 34-year-old Sharon Flanagan, of Inwood, W.Va., burst into tears and pleaded with the judge, who had her removed from the courtroom. Allegheny County Sheriff's Office Lt. Jack Kearney said Flanagan was "ranting incoherent" as two deputies took her away in handcuffs, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
Flanagan, who's expected to be sentenced on Dec. 9 to life in prison without parole, killed her son because she was unhappy her husband had been granted 70 percent custody of him during a bitter divorce, prosecutors said.
In the days before the drowning, Flanagan performed several online searches pertaining to child drowning and the Casey Anthony murder case.
Assistant District Attorney Lisa Pelligrini said in closing arguments that the case was about maternal instincts and that Flanagan's actions didn't make sense unless she planned the killing.
"Everything about this is what would a parent do to save her own child," Pelligrini said. "What would any human being do when any child is face down in a tub drowning?"
Flanagan at first told detectives that when she realized her son wasn't breathing she was unable to lift him out of the tub because he was stuck or held face down by some strange force. She later admitted that was a lie.
And when she ran to get help in the hotel she never told anyone she encountered what had happened. Instead, she clutched her stomach, shouting, "My baby, my baby," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
Defense attorney Blaine Jones, during his closing argument, said the boy's death was accidental.
"Sometimes, accidents happen," he said. "The evidence simply doesn't say there's anything more."