Ill. mom charged with killing her 3 kids told police her ex meant to kill her, too

Monday, November 20th 2006, 10:28 pm
By: News On 6

DECATUR, Ill. (AP) A mother on trial in the drownings of her three kids claimed her ex-boyfriend intended to kill her and the children when he sank her car three years ago, but she later backed down from the assertion, according to a taped interview played Monday for jurors.

``He wanted us all gone,'' Amanda Hamm told investigators during an interview on Sept. 17, 2003, about two weeks after the children died.

But when asked later during the same interview when Maurice LaGrone Jr. suggested the drownings, she said: ``He never has. He's never said nothing like that to me.''

Hamm's early statements were the first public allegation that LaGrone intended to kill both her and her children. Both Hamm and LaGrone have maintained the deaths were an accident that happened after LaGrone parked the car too close to a lake during a family outing.

Prosecutors claim Hamm and LaGrone planned the deaths because the children were in the way of their relationship.

Hamm, 30, is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Christopher Hamm, 6, Austin Brown, 3, and Kyleigh Hamm, 23 months. The children drowned Sept. 2, 2003, after their mother's car sank into Clinton Lake while they were in the back seat.

LaGrone, 31, was convicted of first-degree murder last April and is serving life in prison.

Hamm said early in the police interview that her live-in boyfriend may have chosen the boat ramp to drown her and her children because of its remote location.

``I think he did because he was thinking he could get away with it, that no one would find us. He'd have enough time to get away,'' Hamm told investigators on the tape.

During the interview, DeWitt County Sheriff Roger Massey assured Hamm that police would protect her from LaGrone. Massey told Hamm she was not being blamed for not saving the children, but also told her it was ``very obvious to not only investigators but to the public that there's no way this was an accident.''

Defense attorney Steve Skelton said outside the courtroom Monday that the interview represents ``the horrendously abusive and psychologically inhumane treatment (Hamm) was subjected to.''

The state could end its case Tuesday before the trial is put on hold over Thanksgiving. LaGrone is expected to be the first defense witness next Monday.