Father Sentenced to Life for Murdering His Children

Father Sentenced to Life for Murdering His Children

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- After a violent outburst, Anderson Black was sentenced Monday to two concurrent life sentences for killing his two children in September 2000.

During the sentencing hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Phil Viti told U.S. District Judge David Winder that Black's motive for the murders was anger.

"That's not true! That's not true," Black screamed as he overturned the heavy wooden table in front of him with his shackled hands. The table's glass top shattered, and two legs on the table broke off.

Several U.S. Marshals and court security officers grabbed Black and forced him down.

Family members sitting behind Black asked the officers to be careful with him because "he's just angry," one relative said.

Black will spend his life in federal prison for slitting the throats of Dakota Ironhawk Black, 3, and Nicole Gentlehawk Black, who was 10 days from her second birthday. Federal sentences don't allow for parole.

Black was convicted in April of first-degree murder, and of two counts of assault on his niece Seraphine Black, who was the only witness to the killings. Sentences for the assaults were folded into the life terms.

Black was not eligible for the death penalty because he killed his children at his parents' house on the Navajo reservation. The Navajo Nation opted out of the death penalty, although U.S. Attorney Paul Warner said the nation is reconsidering that stance.

"Had I been able, I would have sought the death penalty in this case," said Warner, who called the outburst the worst he'd seen in 28 years.

After Winder read the sentence, Black was escorted from the courtroom. Most of his family and friends stayed for several minutes, crying and looking at the floor.

"It's not fair," said Cecelia Black Lee, one of Black's sisters. "He didn't know."

Before the hearing began, Black spoke quietly with his family in Navajo. His mother, who sat behind her son, wiped her eyes as they spoke.

Black apologized to the court for his crime.

"I miss my kids so much. I love them with all my heart, and to this day, I still do," Black said. "I'm sorry to all mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers (whose) hearts are broken. I'm sorry to Jennifer (Atene), the mother of the kids."

Black also said he plans to appeal his case.

Viti said Black's crime was against human nature.

"Rather than acting as their nurturer, their provider, their protecter, he was their murderer," Viti said. "I can't begin to imagine the terror the second child must have experienced watching.

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