updated 1/9/2007 7:48:35 PM ET 2007-01-10T00:48:35

A woman who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity after throwing her three children into San Francisco Bay was acquitted Tuesday of first-degree murder but convicted of assault.

The jury continued deliberating the possibility of convicting LaShuan Harris, 24, of second-degree murder or manslaughter. They must also decide whether Harris was legally sane when she killed her children.

The assault charges carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Harris has been accused of killing 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 Oct. 19, 2005. Prosecutors have said they won’t seek the death penalty.

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.

One of the bodies was recovered, but the others were never found.

Her lawyer said Harris had schizophrenia, was borderline mentally retarded and was convinced she was sending her children to heaven.

But prosecutors said Harris claimed God told her to make a human sacrifice. And because she chose to kill her children instead of herself, she should be found guilty of murder, they said.

Prosecutor Linda Allen said jurors would probably feel sorry for Harris but urged them to use their heads, not their hearts.

“I don’t expect you to have a cold heart, but to have a rational mind,” Allen said.

According to her lawyer, Harris was placed in a psychiatric hospital six times between February 2004 and August 2005, and her mother warned a social worker that she would hurt her children. But the social worker didn’t believe her, Caffese said.

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