Narjes Modarresi, a 32-year-old Houston, Texas, woman was convicted on Thursday of one the most unthinkable crimes possible — the murder of a baby by its own mother. But it was the chilling method she chose for the horrifying crime that left those who know her in disbelief, and saying that Narjes Modarresi is a victim as well — of devastating mental illness.
On April 21, 2010, Narjes Modarresi put her two-month-old son in a stroller and took him for a walk to Buffalo Bayou — a main waterway flowing through Houston. When she got there, she calmly took out a spoon and dug a shallow hole in the mud of the bayou.
Modarresi placed the infant face down in the muddy grave and covered him with dirt, burying the boy alive.
She then ran away and called 911, reporting that the two-year-old had been abducted by two men. But police saw mud on her clothing, and when they questioned her about it, she eventually broke down and told them what she’d done. She led investigators to the infant’s body.
But her lawyer, as well as her estranged husband, say that Narjes Modaressi is not fully responsible for her tragic and gruesome actions. She suffers from an extreme form of bipolar disorder, was suicidal at the time she buried her son alive and was in a “zombie-like state,” in the days leading up to the murder.
“If she’s really sick, if she’s really mentally ill, she shouldn’t spend her life in prison,” said Amir Golabbakhsh, her estranged husband and father of the murdered child. “She’s ill, but I don’t know what kind of illness she might have. I don’t know. But I know she’s sick.”
Narjes Modarresi has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. According to her lawyer, she experienced severe postpartum depression after the births of both her children.
“After the birth of the first child, she was treated at (a Houston hospital)for 36 days,” said lawyer George Parnham. “By all family accounts, after the birth of the second child, she was zombie-like for two months.”
Throughout her week-and-a-half trial, Narjes Modarresi showed no emotion, nor did she display any reaction when she was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison Thursday.
Golabbakhsh and Narkes Modarresi were wed in a marriage arranged by their respective families in Iran. But the husband says that Modarresi’s parents did not reveal that the woman had suffered from mental illness from the time she was 15 years old.
“Maybe we would have decided not to get married at all,” Golabbakhsh said. “Maybe none of this would have ever happened.”
Parnham failed to convince the jury that due to her mental illness, Modarresi did not have the “specific intent” to murder the child, a finding that would have led to the acquittal of Narjes Modarresi. But the jury didn’t buy it, preferring prosecutor’s arguments that the woman’s elaborate planning for the murder proved her intent to kill.
Parnham said he plans to appeal the life sentence handed down to Narjes Modarresi.