MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A lawyer for a Tennessee woman charged with killing four of her children says a medical examiner found his client suffered from a mental defect at the time of the slayings.

The Commercial Appeal reports attorney Craig Morton said Tuesday that the medical examiner found that the defect called into question whether Shanynthia (shah-NIN’-the-ah) Gardner could understand the wrongfulness of her conduct. Gardner appeared briefly in Criminal Court on Tuesday.

Gardner is to return to court Dec. 7. She faces murder and child abuse charges.

Sheriff’s officials say Gardner cut her children’s throats at her Shelby County apartment in 2016. The children were all younger than 5.

Authorities say a fifth child, a boy who was 7 at the time, escaped and told a neighbor his mother was stabbing his sister.

Information from: The Commercial Appeal,

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