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The Orlando Sentinal
November 3, 2004
Carol Scott, Sentinel Staff WriterTHE ORLANDO SENTINEL
“At the moment I killed my children, I felt like it was the only way they would get to go to heaven,” she said. “I didn’t think I was capable of taking care of them any further.”
Williams, 32, was sentenced Tuesday to three consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to killing her three children — Ilona, 9, Ian, 6, and Ivey, 5 — on Mother’s Day. She admitted feeding them Xanax and, once the children had fallen asleep, stuffing them between mattresses of a bed, where authorities think they suffocated.
Williams then drove to North Carolina to confront a former lover and was arrested on trespass charges unrelated to her children. In custody, however, she admitted to killing the children and told authorities where they could find them in her Longwood home.
“I was very, very distraught,” Williams said, adding that she was under the influence of several drugs and had stopped taking her antidepressant medication. “I was just so tired. I wanted to lay down and go to sleep.” She gave her children the Xanax and went to sleep, she said.
“When I woke up, they weren’t breathing.”
Williams said she didn’t remember all that happened in the days surrounding the murders. But she said she agreed with a narrative read by Assistant State Attorney Charley Tabscott:
Telling her husband, Gary Williams, that she was going to take their children camping on Mother’s Day weekend, Andrea Williams drove them May 7 to North Carolina, meeting and arguing with a former lover, Ashley Bishop, who had lived in Williams’ home the previous summer. Williams then drove back to Florida, killed her children, and returned to North Carolina.
Williams was arrested outside Bishop’s home May 10 on trespass charges. Gary Williams reported the children missing the next day. Authorities searched the Williams home but uncovered nothing. They returned and found the children’s bodies in the bed after Andrea Williams confessed.
State prosecutors decided against seeking the death penalty after reviewing Williams’ background and “aggravating circumstances,” said Assistant State Attorney Chris White. “It was the best thing to do,” White said.
Court records indicate Williams at one time was considering an insanity defense.
The courtroom Tuesday was packed by almost 50 people, including family members, as Williams walked in, looking tired and worn. As she sat down, some onlookers held up photos of the children. Others, including Gary Williams, wore white T-shirts with pictures of the children. Andrea Williams turned away and bowed her head.
After she pleaded guilty, Williams asked the judge for permission to address her family. He agreed.
“I just want you to know that I am sorry for all of the pain that I caused,” she said amid jeers from two onlookers. “Please don’t forgive me for my sake. Forgive me for your sake. It’s what they [her children] would have wanted.”
Afterward, Sharon Foster of Orlando, a friend of Andrea’s family, said she went to show her support.
“It’s hard to know whether she [Williams] made the right decision” to plead guilty, Foster said. The three children had spent holidays with Foster and Williams’ family, Foster said. She said most of her relatives had either forgiven her or would soon.
“I think if they haven’t yet, they’ll come to it,” Foster said.