NEW KENT, Va. - A woman was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday for killing her month-old son in a microwave oven.
Elizabeth Renee Otte, 20, wept and clutched a photograph of the infant.
''I love my son. I still love my son and I will always love my son,'' she said. ''I can honestly say I can't remember doing this if I did this.''
Otte entered an Alford plea to involuntary manslaughter, meaning she did not admit guilt but acknowledged there was enough evidence to convict her in the 1999 death. She was originally charged with first-degree murder.
Otte has claimed that she has no memory of cramming her son in the microwave and turning the appliance on. Experts said that Otte suffers from epilepsy and that her seizures often are followed by blackouts of up to 50 minutes.
Lawyers on both sides acknowledged that what happened that night might never be known.
''It's possible that this child's death was a tragic accident. I've reflected long and carefully on the evidence,'' Judge John R. Alderman said in sentencing her to prison, followed by 20 years on probation.
Joseph Lewis Martinez was found dead in the Lanexa home where Otte lived with the baby's father, Joseph Anthony Martinez, then 18. According to experts, Joseph probably died after 10 minutes in the oven, when his blood reached 106 degrees.
Otte had stopped taking medication when she became pregnant, and Martinez told authorities that she had more than 50 seizures before and after the birth, including one time when she dropped the baby.
Otte's lawyer, Stephen Harris, said she had been excited about having the baby.
''If she had intended to harm her child she had other options,'' Harris said. ''They were living by the river. The river was right across the street. There were ways that were more surreptitious than placing the baby in the microwave and going to bed.''