Susan V. Smith covered her face and cried as prosecutor Tommy Pope read aloud the charges that she rolled her car into John D. Long Lake with her sons, 3-year-old Michael and 14-month-old Alex, inside.
Smith sobbed and spectators in the packed courtroom gasped as Pope confirmed defense lawyer David Bruck's Sunday report that he would seek to have her electrocuted if she is convicted of murder.
Bruck said his client would not enter a plea. Circuit Judge Costa Pleicones entered a not guilty plea on her behalf and scheduled her trial for April 24.
Smith had first told police a carjacker took her sons on Oct. 25. She and her estranged husband, David, pleaded on television for their return. But she confessed nine days later, saying she was suicidal and acted out of distress over a broken romance.
"The death penalty for her is beside the point. She says over and over she wants to die," Bruck said after the five-minute hearing. "She is lost in an ocean of grief and there is no relief for her. When she sleeps, she dreams about the boys and she writes them desperate letters."