updated 4/19/2007 4:35:12 PM ET 2007-04-19T20:35:12

A mother who smothered her crying 9-month-old twins with a pillow then went back to sleep was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Lakeia White, 20, pleaded guilty but mentally ill on Wednesday to homicide by child abuse. She said she put the pillow over sons Davion and Trevon Wilson on Oct. 11 to settle them down while she was staying with relatives in this town near the coast.

White left the home when the boys were found dead, prosecutor Blair Jennings said.

“I’m sorry for what I did,” she told Judge Roger Young in a soft voice.

Psychiatrists said White knew her actions were wrong but suffered from depression with psychotic effects. By law, people are guilty but mentally ill if they could tell right from wrong but suffered from mental illness.

White had faced up to life in prison.

“This is not an easy case,” Young told White before sentencing her to 20 years, suspended upon service of 10.

The judge said White will likely end up serving eight years if she stays out of trouble in prison. She must receive mental health counseling when she is released.

Ramon Wilson, the boys’ father and White’s fiancee, had asked the court to show her mercy.

“I plead and beg that you do not fault her for what she’s done,” he wrote in a letter read aloud by White’s attorney. Wilson is in the Air Force, stationed in Montana.

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