Defense asks for conviction on a lesser charge in case of mother accused of suffocating her children

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. - The lawyer for a Castle Rock mother accused of murdering her two children asked a jury Tuesday to find her guilty of a lesser crime.

Kelli Murphy is charged with murder in the deaths of her children -- 9-year-old Liam and 6-year-old Madigan. The children were killed one day before Murphy was due in court for a child custody hearing.

Murphy called 911 on May 23, 2011 to say that she had attempted suicide. When the dispatcher asked about the kids in the home, Murphy replied that they were "already in heaven," according to Castle Rock Police Chief Tony Lane.

That 911 tape was played for the court Tuesday, during the closing arguments.

The children were found dead in the family's home Murphy's lawyer told the jury he wanted them to find her guilty of reckless manslaughter, a lesser offense than murder. The defense didn’t argue that she was innocent, but instead that she was unaware of what she did because of the mix of pain medication and alcohol she was on at the time.

The sentencing difference between a reckless manslaughter and murder conviction would allow Murphy a chance at parole instead of life in prison.

During the prosecutions closing argument, the DA reiterated testimony from their expert, a medical examiner. That medical examiner, they said, testified that suffocating children takes several minutes after the child stops struggling, and that doing it twice without knowledge is impossible.

Family members, including some from California, were in the courtroom for the end of the arguments.

The jury began deliberating this case shortly after 11 a.m.