JANUARY 11, 17:23 EST

Mother of Abused Quads Sentenced
Associated Press Writer

PHOENIX (AP) — A mother of quadruplets was sentenced Tuesday to more than 150 years in prison for shaking the babies so hard they suffered broken skulls and brain damage. The babies' father was sentenced to five years.

Elizabeth Whittle, 25, was convicted in November on 13 of 14 counts of child abuse.

Babies Robert, Damian and Megan have mostly recovered from the injuries suffered in April 1998, but are prone to seizures. Baby Anthony is brain-damaged, deaf and blind.

Whittle broke down in tears as soon as the hearing began, and at one point Judge Roger Kaufman had to admonish her to refrain from making comments so others in the courtroom could hear the proceedings.

``They convicted me on lies,'' Whittle said at one point to her attorney.

Her husband, Anthony Perez Sr., was convicted on four counts of failing to notify authorities or get prompt medical attention for the infants. He was sentenced to five years in prison on one count of child abuse and given suspended sentences for the other three.

``I know and God knows that me and my wife didn't hurt these babies,'' Perez told the judge before the sentencing. ``I don't understand what happened.''

The babies were born in January 1998, and people showered the family with donations of money, formula, baby clothing and other gifts.

But in April 1998, the quadruplets were hospitalized with injuries that medical experts testified were the result of having been severely shaken.

The injuries were similar to those caused by a car crash, prosecutors said.

Whittle's attorneys suggested the injuries were caused by Whittle's daughter, Erica, who has Down syndrome and was 6 at the time the infants were hospitalized.

Anthony and Megan are showing signs of cerebral palsy as a result of their brain injuries, a state medical expert testified. Experts have said that cerebral palsy, blindness and bleeding in the brain are common in cases of shaken-baby syndrome.

Copyright 2000 Associated Press.