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Ill. Man Gets Life for Drowning 3 Kids After Leaving Note for Wife: 'If I Can't Have Them Neither Can You'

Jason Karels previously pleaded guilty but mentally ill to the 2022 murders of his three young children

GoFundMe Debra Karels and her three children, Bryant, 5, Cassidy, 3 and Gideon, 2.
GoFundMe Debra Karels and her three children, Bryant, 5, Cassidy, 3 and Gideon, 2.

• Jason Karels pleaded guilty last December to three counts of first-degree murder after drowning his children Bryant, 5, Cassidy, 3 and Gideon, 2

• The bodies of the children were discovered by their mother, who went to pick them up after they'd spent the weekend with their father

• Eric Kalata, a lawyer on the prosecution team, described Karels’ actions as “brutal, evil, and sinister"

After being convicted of the murders of his three young children in December, Jason Karels was sentenced in an Illinois courtroom to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Friday.

Karels, 36, pleaded guilty but mentally ill on Dec. 15, 2023, to three counts of first-degree murder in connection with the 2022 drowning deaths of his three children, ages 5, 3 and 2, according to a statement shared by the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors said Karels drowned Bryant, 5, Cassidy, 3 and Gideon, 2, at his Round Lake Beach, Ill., home on June 13, 2022. Officers who were called to the scene by the mother of the children said they found a note from Karels that said, “If I can’t have them neither can you.”

Related: Man Pleads Guilty to Drowning His 3 Kids After Leaving Note for Wife: 'If I Can't Have Them, Neither Can You'

Karels was arrested later that evening near Joliet, Ill., following a 17-minute pursuit by Illinois State troopers, authorities said. The chase led to Karel’s vehicle crashing near Interstate 80. Police said he “made statements to police officers regarding his role in the triple homicide.”

Round Lake Beach Police Chief Gilbert Rivera said during a press conference at the time that, “[Karels] also said he attempted to commit suicide several times after the deaths of the children,” PEOPLE previously reported.

The mother, identified as Debra Karels, told CBS Chicago in 2022 that she and Karels were in the middle of a divorce because he “constantly played games and neglected his family.” Debra added that she discovered the dead bodies of her children lying on a bed that day when she went to pick them up after they spent the weekend with her estranged husband, according to the outlet.

Related: Ill. Dad Allegedly Drowned 3 Young Children During Custodial Visit: 'Cannot Fathom the Pain'

Eric Kalata, a lawyer on the prosecution team, described Karels’ actions as “brutal, evil, and sinister,” according to the release. He said that Karels caused terror in the final moments of life for his children, and that Karels used them as pawns in a scheme of revenge.

In victim impact statements that were read in court at the sentencing hearing, the family described the three children as beautiful, innocent children who did not deserve what happened to them, calling Karels a “monster” who destroyed many lives, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

<p>OFFICE OF THE STATE'S ATTORNEYLAKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS</p> Jason Karels

OFFICE OF THE STATE'S ATTORNEYLAKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS

Jason Karels

The family also reportedly said that Karels was supposed to love and protect them at all costs and instead, he did the opposite. The statements further described the loss as a wound that will remain unhealed forever, per the release.

Lake County Community Action collectively created a GoFundMe campaign to financially support Debra following her childrens’ deaths.

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“Our thoughts are first, with the family today,” State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said in the release. “This has been a devastating case for the family and community. They will always have this Office’s support. The law enforcement officers from Round Lake Beach performed unbelievably in the most difficult of circumstances imaginable. We are thinking of them too.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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Read the original article on People.