Illinois woman who killed infant daughter granted parole

State News

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A southern Illinois woman who served three decades in prison for killing her infant daughter was granted parole on Thursday.

The Illinois Prisoner Review Board board voted 12-1 to grant release to Paula Sims of Alton after more than three hours of testimony and discussion.

“This was a great victory for women, a great relief for me and a great gift to Paula,” her attorney, Jed Stone, told the Belleville News-Democrat. “It is a recognition that postpartum psychosis is real and the women who suffer from that mental illness need to be treated and understood and not brushed aside with having the ‘baby blues.’”

It wasn’t clear when Sims, 62, would be released from the Logan Correctional Center, located northeast of Springfield. She has been incarcerated there for 30 years.

A jury in 1990 convicted Sims of first-degree murder, concealing a homicide and obstructing justice in the suffocation death of her 6-week-old daughter, Heather Sims. Paula Sims confessed to the 1989 killing of Heather and the 1986 killing of her other daughter, 13-day-old Loralei Sims, the News-Democrat reported.

Stone argued Sims committed the crimes while suffering from postpartum psychosis, a rare mental illness that causes some new mothers to experience delusions, hallucinations and paranoia. Recent changes in Illinois law allow postpartum psychosis and depression to be considered as mitigating factors in sentencing.

About 25 people attended the hearing in support of Sims. No one attended in opposition.

Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Haine sent a five-page letter to the review board “strenuously” opposing Sims’ release. He argued that Sims lied about her crimes for years to avoid punishment and confessed only after she was found guilty of murder and wanted to avoid the death penalty.

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