Mother convicted of drowning son in Green Tree hotel bathtub to spend life in prison
By Bobby Kerlik
Published: Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, 12:21 p.m.
A mother convicted of drowning her 2-year-old son in a Green Tree hotel will spend the rest of her life in prison, an Allegheny County judge ruled on Monday.
Sharon Flanagan, 34, of Inwood, W.Va., stared downward for most of the sentencing hearing while her ex-husband told Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning that Flanagan deserves life in prison for killing their son.
“I cannot fully express my joy that this horrible person who killed my son will never hurt another child,” Steven W. Flanagan told Manning while clutching a Halloween photo of his son dressed in a puppy outfit. “I beg you to show no sympathy on this horrible person whatsoever. Please understand that there is no punishment great enough that she can receive for what she has done.”
Manning sentenced Sharon Flanagan to life in prison without the possibility of parole for her Sept. 20 first-degree murder conviction. The jury agreed with prosecutors who said she purposefully drowned her son, Steven T. Flanagan, in the Best Western Parkway Center Inn in Green Tree. The toddler died on July 6, 2012, in Children's Hospital, five days after his mother told police she found him lying facedown, unresponsive in a bathtub.
Sharon Flanagan shook her head no when the judge asked whether she had anything to say.
Her attorney, Blaine Jones, argued at trial that the drowning was an accident.
“It was an emotionally draining case and sentencing. There aren't any winners in this case,” Jones said. “It was an accident. She didn't intentionally try to drown her son.”
Flanagan initially told investigators she attempted to save the boy from drowning but said an unexplained force was pulling him under the water. During the trial, Flanagan testified she pulled the plug and ran for help but did not touch her son.
Prosecutors highlighted evidence that detectives discovered on Flanagan's computer related to searches for Casey Anthony and “leading cause of toddler death.” Anthony was acquitted in 2011 of murdering her 2-year-old daughter in a Florida case that drew national attention.
Steven Flanagan said he can't explain what led his wife to abruptly leave him and seek a divorce, and eventually to kill their son.
“I would just say, ‘Why?' She had everything in the world. I mean, excellent marriage, beautiful child, money in the bank, wonderful church family. I mean you name it — we could go down the list. She had everything,” he said. “And she had talents and abilities, and I would just say, ‘Why?' That's all I can think about saying.”
Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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