Mother pleads guilty in deaths of 2 toddlers at marijuana grow house

Mother faces 7 years in prison in drowning deaths of her two children at marijuana grow house

The mother of two toddlers who drowned in a backyard swimming pool in La Mesa pleaded guilty Monday to two felony counts of child endangerment.

Tassie Behrens, 28, could get seven years in prison when sentenced Sept. 17 in San Diego County Superior Court.

San Diego County sheriff's deputies said Behrens woke up about 9:45 a.m. on May 13, 2013, to find her children in the pool, floating and unresponsive.

Both children were taken to hospitals.

One-year-old Harley Bradford was pronounced dead at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. Two-year-old Jason Bradford was taken to Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego, where he died later that night.

Investigators said Behrens initially told them that the incident occurred at a community swimming pool in a nearby mobile home park. She later admitted she had lied and that the incident occurred at a friend's home where she was staying, investigators said.

Two of the three bedrooms in the home had been converted to a marijuana growing operation, according to court documents.

Behrens explained that she did not want to get her friend in trouble because the pool lacked a fence, according to sheriff's Lt. Glenn Giannantonio.

Later, the resident of the home, Larry Dangelo, 45, was arrested on suspicion of running a marijuana cultivation operation at the home and child endangerment. He pleaded guilty to a drug charge and, under a plea bargain, agreed to a five-year prison sentence.

The children's father was in prison when the deaths occurred, officials said.

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World