A grandmother who was accused of fatally shooting her two 8-year-old twin grandsons with autism last spring was sentenced to more than two decades in prison this week.
The 56-year-old grandmother attempted to kill herself following the shootings, but survived the attempt and was later charged in the first-degree murders of the two boys. The charges were later downgraded to manslaughter after the Arizona grandmother took a plea deal.
“This is probably one of the saddest cases I’ve ever seen,” Pima County prosecutor Tracy Miller told Oxygen.com. “You have two kids this young that were murdered by someone they love… and the one person in the world that is caring for them decides that they need to die — that’s a pretty horrifying thought.”
Around 7 a.m. on April 3, prosecutors said Flood called Laguna Elementary School in Tucson where her two special needs grandsons attended school and told administrators they wouldn’t be coming to school that day. She referenced a temper tantrum and hung up. Hours later, Jorden and Jaden would be dead.
Flood first went into Jorden’s bedroom with a .22 pistol and shot him in the stomach, prosecutors said. The gun, however, temporarily jammed. Shortly after 9 a.m., Flood then Googled how to clear the firearm’s chamber. She eventually unjammed the gun and stepped into Jaden’s room. The 8-year-old was sitting on a chair. Flood allegedly fired again, striking the child once in the chest. She then shot each of the twins once in the head.
The woman placed the pistol, which had jammed once again, on a dining room table and ingested a hodgepodge of various pills.
“She took pills — basically everything she could find in the house — and laid down in the living room,” Miller added.
Flood’s mother found her the next day and called the authorities, who subsequently discovered the bodies of Jorden and Jaden.
Prior to her sentence being read, Flood insisted she loved her two grandchildren — and regretted pulling the trigger.
"I loved those boys. I never intended to harm them," the Associated Press reported. "I am so sorry that I did."
However, the woman’s defense team insisted that Flood, who assumed guardianship of the two boys after their own mother’s death two years ago, was a loving grandmother who cracked under the strain of caring for the “severely autistic” twins.
“She went two years without adequate sleep, health insurance, and much needed antidepressants in order to fully dedicate herself to the care of her grandsons,” Sarah Kostick, Flood’s public defender, told Oxygen.com. “In a deeply depressed, sleep-deprived, and hopeless state, she committed the worst act imaginable.”
The woman’s defense team also hired two doctors who issued separate reports indicating Flood was certifiably insane. Her lawyers insisted Flood was unstable and carried out the double murder of the two autistic children, who were non-verbal and had other “chronic illnesses,” as an act of mercy.
“Mrs. Flood recognized the physical pain that both boys were in and her choice of place to shoot them reflected her desire to relieve them of their pain, not cause more. At the time, she truly believed she was being merciful and doing the right thing,” Kostick added in a statement.
She said their client shot Jorden in the stomach because he suffered from gastrointestinal issues, while Jaden, who sustained a bullet wound to the chest, suffered from asthma, Kostick claimed. The public defender stated that Flood is currently on medication and “thinking clearly.”
“Ms. Flood knows what she did was wrong and inexcusable,” Kostick said. “She is deeply remorseful. She is prepared to serve her 21-year sentence with dignity and humility, and hopes that her story can be used to help others who find themselves in the seemingly hopeless situation of caring for severely disabled children with the limited resources available to caregivers.”
Miller, the Pima County attorney, wasn’t wholly convinced Flood’s defense would have stood up in court had the case gone to trial.
“There’s no evidence to suggest that Dorothy Flood didn’t love and care for these boys — but I also believe at some point she made the decision that they needed to die, that she was tired of continuing to care for them, and she believed that that was the best thing for them," he said.
Co-workers of Flood's were also perplexed after hearing of the shootings at the time.
“My first reaction was of course 'No, it could not be the same Dorothy we knew,'” Flood’s former co-worker Chandra McCord told Tucson's KOLD-TV last year. McCord described how the Arizona grandmother had photos of her twin grandsons throughout her work space.
Relatives of Flood petitioned the court for a lenient sentence, citing her non-existent criminal history prior to the tragic shootings.
Jorden and Jaden’s mother died by suicide in 2017, officials said. Flood assumed guardianship of the twin brothers the same year, according to court documents obtained by Oxygen.com.
Kostick described Flood's two grandsons as “deeply expressive and playful children.”
“They were well loved by all of their family members and adored Mrs. Flood,” she added.
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