Trial set for Arizona mom charged with leaving children in hot car

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 07, 2014 3:22 PM

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona prosecutors will go to trial to press felony child abuse charges against a woman who drew national attention when she left her two young sons in a hot car while attending a job interview, a county attorney's spokesman said on Friday.

Shanesha Taylor missed another deadline on Thursday to deposit $40,000 into court-mandated trust funds for her boys, which would have spared her the charges under a plea agreement struck earlier this year with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, said the spokesman, Jerry Cobb.

"That was her last opportunity that we were giving her to avoid prosecution," Cobb said. "The deal is now off the table."

The trial in the much-publicized case is scheduled to begin on Dec. 10.

Taylor, 35, was arrested by Phoenix police in March and charged with two counts of felony child abuse after officers found her 6-month-old and 2-year-old boys in the car in their child seats, sweating and in obvious distress, in temperatures of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).

The plight of a mother trying to get a job to help care for her children, despite putting them at risk in the process, attracted widespread coverage, as did a police mugshot that showed Taylor sobbing as she was booked into custody.

An online fundraising effort that was launched by a New Jersey woman on her behalf raised nearly $115,000.

In July, Taylor reached an agreement with prosecutors which included the provision that she put $60,000 into the trusts to pay for her sons' education and childcare, and that she complete substance abuse treatment and parenting classes.

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A month later, she regained custody of her children. But prosecutors who said their patience was at an end reinstated the child abuse charges after she failed to deposit the money, even after she won an agreement to reduce the amount to $40,000.

Taylor, who remains unemployed, could not be reached for comment on Friday. She told reporters on Thursday that she still has $72,000 left from the donations but has had problems working out the details of setting up the trust funds.

(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Sandra Maler)