Image: Celine Lesage
-  /  AFP - Getty Images file
Celine Lesage, shown in 2007, acknowledged killing her six babies at birth.
updated 3/18/2010 5:22:55 PM ET 2010-03-18T21:22:55

A court in Normandy on Thursday convicted a 38-year-old woman of killing six of her newborn babies — a deed she acknowledged — and sentenced her to 15 years in prison.

Hours before the verdict, Celine Lesage said what she had told investigators, that she had killed her newborns at birth.

Prosecutor Eric Bouillard had sought a 16-year prison sentence for Lesage with no early release before half the term was served.

Lesage was suspected of killing her six newborns between August 2000 and September 2007. She was charged with aggravated voluntary homicide and could have received a life sentence.

"Yes, I killed the babies," she said under questioning Thursday ahead of the verdict. She burst into tears. "I did it but ... I can't explain it."

Four of the newborns were smothered and two others strangled with small cords, a medical expert told the court at the trial in Coutances, in Normandy's Manche region of northwest France.

Lesage was arrested in 2007 after her partner at the time, Luc Margueritte, discovered the tiny corpses in plastic garbage bags in the basement of their apartment building in Valognes. He is the father of the last newborn and was a civil party in the case.

On the fourth and final day of the trial, Lesage told the court that "she had prepared nothing" ahead of the deaths but nevertheless acknowledged that she had given birth in her bedroom with plastic bags and cords next to her.

Lesage has a 14-year-old son.

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