The Phoenix mother whose tearful mugshot last March sparked widespread public support after she was arrested for leaving her children in the car on a hot day will have her case dismissed if she completes certain requirements, the county attorney said Friday.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said he will dismiss child abuse charges against Shanesha Taylor if she successfully completes parenting and substance abuse treatment programs and establishes education and child-care trust fund accounts for her children.
"Based on all the facts and circumstances in this matter, we believe this agreement represents a just resolution that appropriately holds the defendant accountable for her actions while also recognizing the best interests of her family," Montgomery said in a statement.
Taylor was released from jail March 31 on $9,000 bond and was indicted on two felony counts after she left her boys, aged 6 months and 2 years, alone in her SUV for 38 minutes while in a job interview at a Farmers Insurance office in Scottsdale, Ariz.
"We are very happy with the outcome today," said Benjamin Taylor, her lawyer. "We want to thank the county attorney's office and the judge for coming together for a great resolution that will be beneficial for the future for her kids and her family."
Her children were examined at a hospital the day of her arrest and released. They are now with family and under the supervision of the state Division of Child and Family Services.
On March 20, a passerby walking in the parking lot of a Scottsdale office complex saw a child crying inside an SUV and called police, according to a police report.
Officers found the SUV in the open, without any shade, and with its windows rolled down about an inch, a police report said. The driver's side door was unlocked, the key still in the ignition and the radio on.
The 6-month-old was wrapped in a blanket and, like his brother, buckled in. The air was on but it was blowing hot air from outside, police noted. The report said it was more than 100 degrees in the vehicle.
"Both were sweating profusely and appeared to be in distress," the report said of the children. "The 6-month-old was crying hysterically and was in distress. The other child was just staring at the officer and the officer asked the child where his mother was and the child pointed outside the vehicle."
Taylor told officers that she was unemployed and had a job interview but no baby sitter to watch the children. So she decided to take both boys with her to the interview during what would normally have been their nap time.
If Taylor fails to comply with the terms of the agreement, Montgomery will proceed with prosecution of the charges against her. If she had been convicted of the two child-abuse counts, she would have faced a minimum of two years probation.
Since Taylor's arrest, a fund-raising page at youcaring.com set up on her behalf has raised more than $114,775 from 4,052 donors to assist with her legal fees and other expenses.
Montgomery said the stipulations of the agreement ensure that the "pledges of support from members of the public will have a meaningful and positive impact" since she can use the donated funds toward her classes and the boys' trust funds.