"These boys died because of meth": A closer look at the Tasha Bates trial
A Bradley County mother will spend the rest of her life in prison. A jury found Natasha Bates guilty in connection with the 2012 deaths of her sons, 3-year-old River and 5-year-old Leland.
A medical examiner ruled the two died of overheating, likely from being left in a hot car. A jury found her guilty of first degree murder and aggravated child neglect and making meth. At the heart of this case was the death of Bates' two sons, Leland and River. But the state says there is a larger takeaway from this trial, that more needs to be done to tackle the dangerous and deadly drug, meth.
"Ms. Bates, as to counts number one and count number three, you'll be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole," said Judge Amy Reedy to Tasha Bates, shortly after the jury's verdict.
Tasha Bates received an automatic life sentence on the two felony murder charges for the deaths of Leland and River.
"She's obviously devastated by the verdict," said Bates' attorney, Richard Hughes.
Hughes says it was tough fighting the state's evidence.
"It was certainly not an easy trial for her to hear all of these things that came out about her, about her lifestyle and drug use," said Hughes.
"These boys died because of meth," said Assistant District Attorney Stephen Hatchett.
Hatchett says he is convinced, if Tasha Bates did not use meth, her two sons would still be alive today.
"It's time to make pseudoephedrine prescription only. It's time to deal with the meth problem in this case, in this state. Not just in this case but in this state."
During the trial, the state made a firm argument that Tasha's meth use created a pattern of neglect.
"Your testimony to the jury is the fact that you've already acknowledged smoking meth, had nothing to do with that?" asked Hatchett in the Trial. "No," answered Bates. "It had nothing to do with this pattern of early morning hours for you and then late afternoon hours for you?" asked Hatchett. "No," said Bates.
In the end, Bates denied leaving her boys alone in her car or finding them there.
"The children were in the car, weren't they?" asked Hatchett during questioning. "No they were not," said Bates. "Your child had to be in the car," he said. "No they were not," said Bates. "Not possible and yet you're going to still insist they were in the yard?" asked Hatchett. "I can't tell you anything but the truth. I found them in the yard," answered Bates.
"It's just painful. I have to go home and tell her son his momma has life in prison now," said Linda Bates, Leland and River's grandmother.
"There's no winners in these kinds of cases. You've got a family that's heartbroken. Their daughter's going to prison. You've got two dead children," said Hatchett.
Tasha Bates still has to be sentenced on the aggravated child neglect charges and facilitation of meth charges. Her sentencing hearing is set for November 25th. Her attorney says they are appealing all charges in the case.