Natasha Moses Bates will serve two consecutive life terms in prison after being sentenced for the deaths of her two sons.
Bates, 28, appeared before Judge Amy Reedy after being transferred to Bradley County from Nashville’s Tennessee Prison for Women for her hearing.
River Bates, 3, and Leland Bates, 5, died in June 2012. An extreme heat wave had hit the South and temperatures soared into the 100s locally.
The two children died of hyperthermia, an extremely elevated body temperature. Investigators found they had been inside a vehicle and left unattended.
Narcotics use by Bates was believed to be a contributing factor, which led to two counts of aggravated child neglect charges, two counts of first-degree murder and multiple narcotics charges.
Bates was also sentenced to 40 years regarding the use and manufacture of methamphetamine.
She was originally charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated child neglect, four counts of initiating methamphetamine manufacturing, and promotion of manufacturing meth at her Keith Valley Road residence.
According to her attorney, 10th Judicial District Public Defender Richard Hughes, he will continue the appeals process in the sentencing as well as file for a new trial.
“Obviously we are disappointed in the sentencing made by the court,” Hughes said.
Reedy made her decision based on sentencing guidelines.
“These are two murders, not one,” she said.
Each life sentence is 51 years.
“She will be in her late 70s before she is eligible for parole,” Hughes pleaded with the judge.
Her parole eligibility date is set for March 20, 2072.
During her trial, Bates was found to have changed her version of the event several times.
She had told Bradley County Sheriff’s Office Detective Dewayne Scoggins the children had been inside the car, then stated they were lying outside the car and she found them when she had gone outside to get clothing from the vehicle’s trunk.
Bates reportedly loaded the boys into her car and took them to her father’s house, where 911 was called.
Initial reports indicated that emergency personnel were responding to a drowning, due to the fact the boys bodies were wet.
Their core-body temperatures were in the triple digits due to the heat on June 28, 2012.
Investigators found components of methamphetamine production after continuing the investigation into the children’s deaths.
She was formally charged in July 2012, with the murders as well as the drug charges.
Assistant District Attorney General Stephen Hatchett said during the murder trial, “Detective Scoggins wanted to find the truth.”
“The truth matters if she found them in that car. It matters. Those two little boys deserve truth and justice. It matters,” Hatchett said during his closing statement in the murder trial.
“These were two little boys who died. There were no winners in this case. Two little, bright boys,” Hatchett said Monday after the sentencing hearing.
Hatchett also commended the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division for its work in seeking the truth and finding the answers to what happened to the Bates children.
Bates was remanded into the custody of Tennessee Department of Corrections for transfer to the Nashville facility.