Massachusetts mom who slashed children's throats, set fire gets 20 to 25 years in prison

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SALEM, Massachusetts — A Massachusetts woman who slashed her two children's throats — before dousing them with lighter fluid and setting fire to their apartment — was sentenced Friday to 20 to 25 years in prison.

Tanicia Goodwin, 27, of Salem, pleaded guilty to armed assault with intent to murder, arson and other charges during a hearing in Salem Superior Court. She was ordered to not have contact with any children, including her own, 8-year-old Jamaal and 3-year-old Erica.

Authorities said firefighters responding to the blaze in March 2012 discovered that vents and sprinklers in the apartment had been covered and the front doorknob had been removed.

Goodwin then went to the police station and told authorities, "I'm sorry, babies. I did what I had to do to protect my children," prosecutors said.

Both children survived and are now living with relatives. They did not attend the sentencing.

Goodwin told Judge James Lang that she has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and is now on medication that makes her thoughts "more clear." Her lawyer, Denise Regan, said Goodwin grew up in abusive and neglectful conditions and was only 8 or 9 years old when she began receiving treatment for mental illness.

Lang said Goodwin's actions were shocking.

"I'm frankly at a loss for words, really, to articulate the heinous nature of what occurred here," Lang said.

Assistant District Attorney Melissa Woodward said Goodwin attacked Jamaal as he was watching television and eating cereal, telling him that he had lived too long and cutting his throat. Goodwin then told Jamaal to give a goodbye hug to his little sister, whose neck also was slashed, Woodward said.

Goodwin then doused both children with lighter fluid, set a fire and at some point had cut her own neck.

"This was by all accounts a double murder with a pitiful feigned suicide attempt by the defendant," Woodward said.

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