A 36-year-old Montana woman who pleaded guilty in August to killing her children has been sentenced to life in prison, according to reports.
Leannah Jean Gardipe was sentenced in Missoula on Monday, November 20, 2023, for killing her two children as they were sleeping.
Gardipe was sentenced to spend the rest of her life in the custody of the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services by Judge Robert Deschamps.
Missoula authorities responded to the home on November 19, 2021 where they found the children, identified in previous court documents as 5-year-old Namaus Sandberg and 3-year-old Evelyn Sandberg fatally stabbed and with grave injuries. The children also had “significant cuts to their throats” and defensive wounds on their hands and fingers.
Gardipe’s mother called 911 after the 35-year-old told her on the phone that she had “saved her babies,” according to charging documents.
Travis Sandberg, the children’s father, said in a victim impact statement that he did not have “a choice” when the judge, who was also presiding during a parenting plan hearing, made Gardipe the primary guardian in 2021.
“I begged and pleaded in this exact courtroom,” Travis said. “I pleaded over and over again, if you give her these children, she will hurt them.”
He asked the court for her to go to prison, not a hospital.
The state asked for a life sentence, and the defense argued for a concurrent DPHHS sentence.
Prosecuting attorney Matt Jennings said Gardipe was having mental issues before the crime, adding she was a meth user before the crimes and used in the last year prior to killing her children.
During her sentencing, Gardipe again talked about saving her children.
Gardipe made a statement during sentencing in court Monday morning. She said, “I did not hurt my kids for any other reason other than I did not want them to get hurt by anyone else. I felt like I had to protect them forever, because I felt like we were not safe. I was supposed to die with them. I loved them more every day, my life revolved around them. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I always knew how to ask for help besides this time.”
She added, “They visit me in my dreams, so I know they are OK. it makes me feel good to see them, I miss them every day.”