Sims asks for clemency

by Steve Gonzalez |
Aug. 3, 2006, 3:24am

Child killer Paula Sims filed a request for clemency with the Illinois Prisoner Review Board last week claiming she no longer poses a risk to society. She suffered from postpartum depression, she claims in her petition, at the time she drown her two infant daughters first in 1985 and again in 1989.

Sims, 47, also claims women's heath issues have been largely ignored due to a "male dominated" medical and legal system.

"The plight of hundreds of years of women suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) and psychosis (PPP) has been overlooked until recently," Sims claims.

She has spent the last 16 years in prison at the Dwight Correctional Facility for killing 13-day-old Loralei Marie Sims in 1985 and six-week-old Heather Lee Sims in 1989.

Sims claims that victims of post partum depression and post partum psychosis have gone undiagnosed and untreated which have taken "a toll on innocent infant lives."

"This petition calls for mercy, an executive grant of clemency, and the release of a once ill, now healthy woman."

Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich will decide whether to grant Sims' request to be released from a life sentence in prison. Before the request reaches his desk a public hearing in which opponents and supporters may speak will be conducted by the Illinois Prisoner Review Board.

After the hearing, the Prisoner Review Board will make a confidential recommendation to the governor.

This is Sims' first request for clemency. She has been denied repeated requests for a new trial.

In an interview with the Chicago Sun Times last week, Sims said, "I don't expect people to forgive me. I haven't forgiven myself...But I'm being punished for being mentally ill."

In her petition, Sims points out that in June child killer Andrea Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity after a jury heard her post partum depression defense.

"It is awful to think of these innocent lives that will not be lived," she wrote. "It is also awful to overlook the underlying and very treatable cause, PPP."

Sims was convicted in Madison County in 1989 on charges of first degree murder, obstruction of justice and concealing the homicidal death of Heather Lee and was also convicted of obstructing justice for the death of her thirteen-day old daughter, Loralei Marie.

"It is now clear that Paula Sims' actions were the direct result of a severe postpartum disorder," the clemency petition states.

The case fomented the career of former Madison County State's Attorney Don Weber, who is now a circuit judge running for election in November. He went on to write a best-selling book, Precious Victims, and the story was the subject of a television movie.

After Madison County Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian presided over a trial in which a jury found Sims guilty, she made an admission of guilt.

"Paula has taken full responsibility for her crimes," the clemency petition states.

"An evaluation by the Governor of Illinois and the Prisoner Review Board of Paula's life, mental health, crime and service behind bars is important to re-evaluate her life sentence with understanding, mercy and forgiveness," it states.

Sims claims information about post partum depression and post partum psychosis that was not available at the time of her trial will help better understand her crime and her state of mind.

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