Arizona mother who left kids in hot car gets probation
May. 15, 2015
PHOENIX (AP) — A single mother who left her two young sons in a hot car in Phoenix during a job interview was sentenced Friday to 18 years of supervised probation.
The sentencing brought an end to the case that saw Shanesha Taylor draw sympathy around the country and collect more than $114,000 in donations when her teary mug shot was published online.
Her story of trying to get a job without being able to find child care resonated with the public.
But the support quickly turned to scorn when she failed to meet a court deadline to place some of the money into a trust for her children as part of a plea agreement. Questions followed about how she was spending the money.
A judge followed prosecutors' recommendation in sentencing the 36-year-old Taylor in the March 2014 incident.
Her lawyer Valeria Llewellyn had asked for 10 years of probation, saying Taylor was trying to handle her responsibilities that day without asking for help.
Court Commissioner Jeffrey Rueter acknowledged Taylor's predicament, saying her actions were influenced by her economic situation.
But she ultimately demonstrated "criminally poor judgment" and placed her children in danger, Rueter said.
Taylor was arrested after leaving her 2-year-old and 8-month-old sons in her car for about 45 minutes. Authorities said the temperature inside the car exceeded 100 degrees.
Taylor mostly stayed quiet during the sentencing hearing and as reporters trailed her outside the courthouse.
She recently had another baby and the long-term probation was intended to monitor Taylor until the youngest of her four children turns 18, said Jerry Cobb, a spokesman for the Maricopa County attorney's office.
The sentence also requires Taylor to attend parenting classes. The judge deferred a decision on restitution.
Taylor will request to carry out her probation in Chicago, where she intends to move to be with family and try to put the ordeal behind her, Llewellyn said.
"She made a bad mistake and I know she's learned from it," Llewellyn said.
The sentencing came after Taylor pleaded guilty in March to one count of felony child abuse.
Prosecutors said she had spent about $4,100 a month from the donations she received, including more than $1,000 in non-essential items such as cable TV. Taylor countered that she does not live an extravagant lifestyle.
The breach prompted prosecutors to reinstate the initial charges.