AUGUST 19, 01:13 EDT

Woman Convicted of Murdering 4 Sons
Associated Press Writer

VISTA, Calif. (AP) — A woman who shot her four sons to death and blamed it on drugs, alcohol and bad relationships has been convicted of murder and now faces the possibility of a death sentence.

Jurors will return next week to consider whether Susan Eubanks, 35, should get the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

Ms. Eubanks shot her sons, ages 4 to 14, after an argument with her boyfriend in October 1997. She stopped once to reload the .38-caliber revolver and then shot herself in the stomach.

She was convicted Wednesday.

Defense attorney Bill Rafael claimed his client — an unemployed, debt-burdened nursing assistant — was a good mother until work-related injuries led to her addiction to pain killers. She also began drinking to kill the emotional pain caused by bad relationships with men, Rafael said.

Prosecutors argued that Ms. Eubanks deliberately plotted to kill the children to torment her boyfriend and the boys' fathers — her two ex-husbands.

Eric Eubanks, the father of the three youngest boys, testified he was concerned after receiving a cryptic message on his answering machine from Ms. Eubanks that said: ``Say good-bye.''

The day of the killings, Ms. Eubanks' boyfriend, Rene Dobson, called police and asked deputies to accompany him to her home. The two had been drinking all day and argued, and she took away his car keys and slashed his tires.

Eubanks stopped by during that time, and Dobson said he told the father, ``She's a little whacked and I want you to know that's she's talked about killing herself and the boys.''

Less than three hours later, deputies found 14-year-old Brandon Armstrong shot twice in the head, laying face-down on the living room floor, his half-eaten cereal spilled around him.

In a bedroom, his 7-year-old brother, Austin, was found sitting upright on the top level of his bunk bed, dead from two shots to the head. Two younger brothers, 6-year-old Brigham and 4-year-old Matthew, were on the bottom bunk, also with gunshot wounds to the head.

In a bedroom, deputies found Ms. Eubanks crying and clutching a bloody towel to her stomach.

Copyright 1999 Associated Press. All rights reserved.