Paula Sims eligible for parole; Alton mom was found guilty of killing infant kids

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The Alton mother who confessed to killing her infant daughters in separate incidents in the 1980s, has been granted eligibility for a parole hearing by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, her attorney confirmed to FOX 2 Thursday night.

“I’m very grateful to Governor Pritzker for recognizing that postpartum psychosis is a serious mental illness that deserves the attention of the medical community and the legal community,” Jed Stone, Paula Sims attorney said. “Paula suffered from postpartum psychosis at the time of her crimes and a sentence of life without parole for a person with mental illness is not justice.” 

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch was first to report the news.

Paula Sims’ attorney Jed Stone has argued that the former Alton woman suffered from postpartum psychosis at the time the two babies died, one in 1986 and 1989.

Sims was convicted in 1990 of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life without parole. Her legal team had unsuccessfully petitioned for similar relief from the Quinn and Rauner administrations.

Stone has represented Sims since the 90s and said this latest effort was at least their third time requesting an Illinois Governor to grant eligibility for parole.

Sims’ case had garnered national attention and the eyes of Dr. Diane Sanford who specializes and is the author of a book dealing with Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Dr. Sanford met Sims shortly after she was incarcerated.

“Once she went on medicine, really started to get better and since then has continued to have good mental health, so it was very unfortunate that she had these two psychotic experiences after each girl was born,” Dr. Sanford said.

She said if Sims case was brought to the court in 2021, it likely would have been treated differently because she said now mental health is more widely talked about and accepted than it was in the 80s and 90s.

“This was a temporary condition that she suffered that was set up by hormonal and situational factors, she is not that person that let her daughters die, and she deserves to go free,” Dr. Sanford said.

The Post-Dispatch says her attorney hopes for a hearing in front of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board in September.

“Paula has served a long sentence and is now not a postpartum psychotic woman, but a stable woman looking for a future in the end years of her life is a strong argument for the prisoner review board and I’m expecting a grant of parole,” Stone said.

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