DONGGUAN, Guangdong - Han Qunfeng, who killed her twin sons suffering from cerebral palsy, said she was filled with remorse, during a public hearing on Thursday.
Han pleaded guilty to the charge of murder at a public trial in Dongguan No 1 People's Court on Thursday morning.
"If I had the chance to choose once more, I would not do it," she said.
"I would ask society for help, instead of going to extremes."
The 37-year-old said she really did not want to kill her twins.
"But I worried about their life once I got too old to look after them."
Han, a former white-collar worker in Dongguan, drowned her two sons in the bathtub at home after feeding them with sleeping pills last November. She then tried to commit suicide by drinking a mixture of rat poison and a farm chemical. But her husband found her and she was taken to hospital.
It is difficult to understand the hardship and pressure Han faced in the wake of giving birth to the physically and mentally challenged twins, said Xia Liangheng, Han's attorney.
"Very few people would have dared to even see them, let alone take care of them for more than a decade," said the attorney. "But Han did. So I think she should be treated leniently."
Han, then a clerk in a local bank, quit her well-paid job to take care of her sons at home two years ago after she could no longer hire nannies to look after them.
Although Han and her husband took their sons to major hospitals in Dongguan and Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, they were always told, even by prestigious doctors and experts, that they had little hope of recovering from the disease.
Han's husband, surnamed Huang, told local media: "Han faced great pressure from work and life after she gave birth to the twins. I hope the court can give a chance to my wife and my unfortunate family."
A total of 558 people have signed a letter and submitted it to the court calling for a lenient sentence for Han.
Liu Wenjun, a Dongguan white-collar worker, said Han should be given a lighter punishment because she was also a victim.
"I feel sympathy for her and her family, and I understand the hardship and difficulties she met in the past years," Liu told China Daily on Thursday.
Han's case should not be simply handled as an ordinary murder case. It was quite different, she added.
Wang Heping, a professor of special education with East China Normal University, said in a recent report in Legal Daily that the latest research shows some 3 million to 4 million people suffer from cerebral palsy in China, with some 60,000 new cases reported every year.
The court did not give a verdict on Thursday.