Eight years on each count, to be served concurrently, and five years’ supervision after her release.
July 5, 2012: Sometime after 6 p.m., Bamenga, then a 29-year-old resident of the Bronx, killed 4-year-old Kenny and her 3-month-old daughter Violette. She drowned the two children in a bathtub, and autopsies determined that both had ingested methanol, a toxic ingredient found in windshield-wiper fluid.
Bamenga also cut her own wrists and drank a significant quantity of wiper fluid mixed into grape juice. Then she taped up the windows of the apartment and turned on the gas.
The firefighters who responded to reports of a gas odor at 1500 Noble Avenue in Parkchester, where she lived with the kids and their father, NYPD rookie Trevor Noel, found her lying unconscious on the kitchen floor alongside Kenny and Violette, wearing a T-shirt with the words “Do not resuscitate” scrawled on it. First responders noted that rigor mortis had already begun to set in on Kenny; they tried to revive Violette, but the baby was pronounced dead on arrival at Jacobi Medical Center.
The reason or motive of what happened inside Lisette Bamenga’s mind after she returned home from picking up the children at daycare remains unclear. She has offered only a fragmented account over the days, months and years since that horrible night. On the stand at her trial, which took place over three weeks this spring, she said she could not remember much of the evening.
Investigators put together a patchwork narrative from the physical evidence at the scene: the notes she printed out, one for her own parents and one for the children’s father, whom she called “a disgrace to manhood,” adding, ”I am taking my precious children to a world where liying and deception does not exist” (sic); the half-emptied bottle of wiper fluid, purchased that afternoon at a local Pep Boys; the well-worn Bible, found next to a knife near the stove; the bathtub, filled with water, which had toys and fecal matter floating in it.
Earlier on in the day Lisette Bamenga had learned that her boyfriend and the father of her children, had another child with a woman named Trevor Noel, the people who have stood by Bamenga after the killings are naive and ignorant of her true nature. “Those that supported her barely know the defendant no more than a year’s time,” (sic) he wrote in an email. “She acted a certain way toward me and acted completely different towards them. The defendant’s supporters would feel completely different if it were their children murdered.”
The Boy Friend Trevor Noel
“No one knows the defendant better than I,” he wrote. “She explicitly threatened to kill me if she ever found me in bed with another woman or that I had a child by someone, and would then plead insanity and get off, and she did. Since there are no police reports of assault, stalking or harassment, any claim of her hitting me, threatening me, or following me, these accusations are not taken into account. Being a man and being physically attacked by a woman is not taken seriously. The defendant downplayed her obsession for me and what she is willing to do if she ever found out if I had a child by another. This woman was obsessed with me. I was her possession.”
Noel’s view, the postpartum-psychosis defense was just a ploy, and the justice system is stacked against men. “These crimes against men and children perpetuated by women occur on a regular basis and do not get enough attention, nor are they taken seriously in our courts,” wrote Noel. “It is grossly underreported. Women will always get the benefit of the doubt in criminal and family court when the victims are men and children. Some way, somehow, the woman becomes the victim even when she is not. Will I get a slap on the wrist if I go on a murderous rampage?”
Postpartum depression affects about seven in every 1,000 women who give birth, but postpartum psychosis — characterized by delusions, hallucinations and paranoia — is much more rare. The most up-to-date estimates put the incidence at between one and two per 1,000 births, or .1%.
The Judgement and Sentence
. “The verdict of first-degree manslaughter was anything but fair,” he wrote. “The postpartum defense was rejected yet the defendant received manslaughter because she was ‘emotional.’ (sic) I find it appalling that the defendant was convicted for anything less than what was proven in court due to the fact she is a woman. No man will ever get a lesser charge after intentionally murdering his own children because he is emotional.”
Lisette Bamenga had killed her children intentionally, Judge Marcus said, and he had rejected the insanity defense because he determined that she knew what she was doing and she knew it was wrong. The finding of “extreme emotional disturbance” did not exonerate her, he explained, but only reduced the charges.