Broward County

Lawyer says mom accused of killing her kids is off her postpartum depression meds

Sophia Hines, the mother accused of murdering her two young children, didn’t make it to bond court Friday.

She remains in jail without bond, but her lawyer Betsy Benson told Miami Herald news partner CBS4 her client was in no shape for court and she hoped to have her transferred to a hospital until she is well.

Benson told the station Hines, a 40-year-old woman visiting South Florida from Philadelphia, is off her medications for postpartum depression, a condition where new mothers experience profound sadness and anxiety.

“She’s catatonic. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Benson told CBS4.

Hines has been in jail since her arrest Thursday, when Miramar Police found Hines’ kids, 7-month-old St. Leo and 3-year-old Ariel, laying unresponsive side-by-side on a bed in the master bedroom. Police said Hines confessed to suffocating her children one-by-one with the same bed sheet before calling the cousin she was staying with and telling her to come home.

“The defendant gave no explanation for her actions,” the report read.

Anthony Singleton, who has been married to Hines for four months and is the father of the boy, told CBS’s Philadelphia affiliate KYW that his wife told him she was going to New York.

“This is the last thing I would expect for her to do,” he told the station. “I still don’t believe it.”

Hines’ daughter-in-law Antonique Singleton told the station that family was struggling to find answers.

“We just don’t understand why,” she said. “We don’t see any real problems where … this could have happened.”

A man who called himself a new friend of Hines’ told CBS4 that his last conversation with her was about her stress and fears. She was sobbing, Palmer Assad said, and worried about the status of her visa and the possibility of returning to Jamaica.

Assad said Hines was getting kicked out of her cousin’s place in Miramar because her cousin’s boyfriend was returning from Jamaica.

“She needed money to get back to Philadelphia,” he said.

But according to Dr. Jeffrey Newport, professor of psychiatry and obstetrics and gynecology and director of the Women’s Reproductive Mental Health program at the University of Miami School of Medicine, postpartum depression might not explain a violent attack.

“In the case of postpartum depression, you would not anticipate a mother harming her children and it would not in itself explain such a violent act. But postpartum psychosis can result in a dangerous situation. However, that is a very agitated, evident state that is considered an emergency and the mother is treated in a hospital.”

Newport said many details in Hines’ case remain unknown.

“The first thing to look at is context, and whether it was an impulsive act or a coldly premeditated act. If it’s impulsive, the mother didn’t mean to kill and was lashing out in anger or frustration. If it’s premeditated, it could be a case of a sociopathic mother like Susan Smith in South Carolina, who plotted and schemed to get rid of her kids and blamed the drowning on a kidnapper.”

Smith was sentenced to life in prison for filicide after she killed her two sons in 1994 by letting her car roll into a lake with the boys trapped inside. She was diagnosed with a personality disorder and depression and had attempted suicide in the past.

“In an extremely rare case, you have a mother who becomes psychotic and is unable to distinguish reality and is convinced it’s in the best interest of the children to hurt or kill them.”

Newport said mothers diagnosed with depression after giving birth usually take medication for up to a year.

Philadelphia Department of Human Services confirmed Thursday that “St. Leo and Ariel Hines were both involved with DHS but were not in the Department’s custody.”

“The children and their parents were receiving in home services by Turning Points for Children, a DHS Community Umbrella Agency,” spokeswoman Alicia Taylor said in a statement. “Those services include face-to-face contact with the family to address their particular issues. We are saddened by this tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with the family.”

There was no record of any history of the family in Florida, the Florida Department of Children and Families confirmed.

Miami Herald staff reporter Alex Harris contributed to this report.

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