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Mom Accused of Killing Her 3 Kids

March 30, 1999

WHEATON, Ill. (AP) _ A judge on Monday ordered a mental examination for a nurse accused of drugging and suffocating her three young children.

DuPage County Judge George J. Bakalis expressed doubts about Marilyn Lemak’s ability to understand the murder charges against her. Mrs. Lemak, who has been under psychiatric care since her children’s deaths, appears ``trance-like″ at court hearings, Bakalis said.

Bakalis ordered Lemak’s arraignment to be postponed indefinitely, and set an April 5 hearing. The actions set in motion a potentially lengthy process that could result in a trial to determine her competency.

Prosecutors allege Mrs. Lemak, of Naperville, Ill., gave her children prescription drugs before putting them to bed March 4, then suffocated 7-year-old Nicholas, 6-year-old Emily and 3-year-old Thomas Lemak with her hands as they slept.

Authorities say she slashed her right forearm during the course of the killings.

Mrs. Lemak and her husband were in the midst of a divorce, and he had recently moved out of the family’s home. Authorities have not disclosed a motive.

Overall, she faces three counts of first-degree murder and six related charges.

Mrs. Lemak, 41, was gaunt Monday but appeared more alert than at previous hearings, where she had sat in a wheelchair with a vacant look in her eyes.

Defense attorney Jack Donahue said a defense psychiatrist has also expressed doubts about Mrs. Lemak’s mental health and will submit a report to the court next week. The evaluation ordered by Bakalis is due within 30 days.

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