Megan Huntsman
Megan Huntsman was a heavy methamphetamine and alcohol abuser.Reuters

A Utah mother who admitted killing six of her newborn babies has been sentenced to life in prison.

Megan Huntsman, 40, strangled or suffocated the babies immediately after giving birth to them at home. Prosecutors said she was a heavy methamphetamine and alcohol abuser who didn't want the responsibility of raising more children.

"In some small way, I wanted to help them avoid the terrible life I would have given them," Huntsman said in a statement read aloud in a Provo courtroom. "I deprived my little babies of the opportunity of life. Those babies aren't coming back, and they never will because of my actions."

The babies were killed over a 10-year period beginning in 1996. They were wrapped in plastic bags and stashed inside cardboard boxes in the garage of the home she shared with her husband 45 miles south of Salt Lake City. The bodies were discovered last year by Huntsman's estranged husband, Darren West, after she had moved out. West also found a seventh baby, but officials believe it was stillborn and not murdered.

All of the babies were West's, but he was not a suspect in the cast. The couple also have three daughters.

Huntsman pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal for a lighter term, but 4th District Judge Darold McDade said it was not "appropriate", and instead sentenced her to 30 years to life imprisonment, reported the Salt Lake Tribune.

"I really thought I'd seen it all until this case came along," the judge told Huntsman. "I hoped I would not get the case. What a tragedy."

Cold and calculated killings

Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman said Huntsman will likely die in prison. "These were very cold and calculated killings," Buhman said in court. "She was a woman who was remarkably unbelievable and incredibly indifferent. She smothered or strangled six of her own flesh and blood."

Letters from two of Huntsman's daughters were read in court by her sister. One daughter called her mother a "good person." The other said she was "shocked and heartbroken" by the crimes.

"This is not the mom I know," she added in the letter. "The mom I know was the one who had dinner for us every night, a clean house and was a loving mother. Nobody could guess my mom would do anything like this."