Courtesy Bronx District Attorney's Office
May 18, 2016 12:05 PM

A former New York City teacher was sentenced Tuesdsay to eight years in prison after being convicted last month of manslaughter for poisoning and then drowning her two young children in 2012, PEOPLE confirms.

Lisette Bamenga, 32, gave grape juice spiked with windshield wiper fluid to her 4-year-old son and 4-month-old daughter in July of 2012, according to a press release from Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark. Bamenga then took the children to the bathroom where she drowned them in the bathtub before confining them in the kitchen and turning on the gas stove, the release states.

Subsequently, Bamenga drank the wiper fluid herself and slit her wrists and left behind notes, the release states. Emergency personnel responding to a call about the smell of gas found her unconscious and her children dead, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Clark had asked Bamenga to be sentenced to 40 years in prison, saying in the release, “The killing of these young children is a horrendous tragedy.”

Prosecutors argued that Bamenga was in a jealous rage and killed the children out of retribution after finding out her boyfriend, the father of the children, had fathered a child with another woman.

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But Bamenga’s lawyer, Michael Dowd, argued Bamenga, a former third grade teacher at Public School 58 in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens neighborhood, suffered from severe postpartum psychosis and wasn’t in her right mind. “There isn’t a doubt that she suffered from postpartum psychosis,” Dowd said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “This was a gentle and loving person,” he added.

About a dozen supporters, including parents of Bamenga’s former students, attended the sentencing and raised $20,000 for her defense, the Associated Press reports.

At the sentencing, Bamenga said, “Never in my right mind would I hurt anyone, especially my children, who meant the world to me,” DNA Info reports.

The AP reports Judge Marcus Martin, when sentencing Bamenga, said, “Postpartum psychosis is very real and a devastating illness … especially when undiagnosed.” Marcus said it was the most difficult sentencing decision he has faced in 26 years as a judge.

But Susan Boone, the aunt of the father of the children, said the verdict was too lenient: “Eight years is not enough time because she can have other children and put other children in danger.”

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