The mother of two children who died in Texas last year after 15 hours in an increasingly hot vehicle was ordered on Wednesday to spend 40 years in prison.
Amanda Hawkins was sentenced after a grueling day of testimony and impact statements were read aloud in a Kerr County courtroom.
In September, she pleaded guilty to two felony counts of abandoning or endangering a child causing imminent danger of death, bodily injury or physical or mental impairment and two counts of injury to a child.
“Those precious little girls would still be here today if this had not happened,” said Judge Keith Williams, according to Hill Country Breaking News.
“People in our community take better care of their pets than you took care of your kids,” Williams told Hawkins.
On the evening of June 6, 2017, Hawkins, then 19, drove daughters Brynn Hawkins, 1, and 2-year-old Addyson Overgard-Eddy to a friend’s house in Kerrville and left them in her vehicle overnight, where they eventually succumbed to the heat while she was inside an air-conditioned home with friends, according to law enforcement.
Authorities said the outside temperatures rose to the high 80s during the day and that at some point in the evening, someone heard the girls crying and asked if they wanted to come in.
Prosecutors reportedly believe the vehicle’s engine had at one point been running while the girls were inside, but a teenage boy at the gathering later slept in the car and then turned it off and rolled the windows up — not realizing there were kids there, he claimed.
About noon on June 7, 2017, Hawkins got the girls from the vehicle and bathed them before taking them to the hospital, authorities said, as she feared the consequences of seeking medical help.
According to authorities, Hawkins took her daughters to a medical center in “grave condition,” claiming the girls had collapsed after smelling flowers during an outing in a local park.
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“This is by far the most horrific case of child endangerment that I have seen in the 37 years that I have been in law enforcement,” Sheriff Hierholzer said in a statement after Hawkins’ arrest.
The teen, Kevin Franke, is also accused in the girls’ deaths. Franke was originally charged with manslaughter and abandonment, but those counts were replaced with two counts of first-degree murder, according to court records obtained by PEOPLE.
Franke, now 18, is being charged as an adult and scheduled to begin his trial on April 29.
Kerr County District Attorney Lucy Wilke said she was “pleased” with the sentencing for Hawkins but couldn’t make any additional comments due to Franke’s pending trial, she told PEOPLE.
“I will accept whatever the punishment may be,” Hawkins said in a statement before she was sentenced. “There are no excuses for what I did.”
Judge Williams accused Hawkins of lying throughout the incident and afterward, which included letters she wrote from jail to three separate men. In one letter, she reportedly described herself as a “sex addict.”
In two of the letters, she discussed missing her babies, but Williams said the letters were mostly about starting new relationships, according to Hill Country Breaking News.
Attempts to reach Hawkins’ and Franke’s attorneys were unsuccessful on Friday.