[UPDATE] Couple Gets 12 Years Each in Toddler Snake Strangulation Case

By: CBS News; Associated Press
By: CBS News; Associated Press

Couple Gets 12 Years Each in Toddler Snake Strangulation Case

Bushnell, FL -- August 24, 2011 --

A central Florida couple has been sentenced to 12 years in prison each for the death of the woman's toddler, who was strangled in her crib by a pet python.

A Sumter County judge sentenced 21-year-old mother Jaren Hare
and her live-in boyfriend, 34-year-old Charles "Jason" Darnell,
on Wednesday. They were both convicted last month of manslaughter, third-degree murder and child neglect. Both previously rejected plea agreements for 10 years in prison.

Authorities say an 8-foot-6-inch albino Burmese python wrapped
itself around 2-year-old Shianna Hare's head on July 1, 2009.
Testimony revealed the snake had not been fed for a month before
the attack.

Defense attorneys argued that the death was an accident, and
there was no way to know that the tame pet would kill a child.

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Couple Guilty in Toddler Snake Strangulation Case

[UPDATE] 7-14 2:55pm - BUSHNELL, Fla. (AP) --

A central Florida couple has been convicted in the death of the woman's toddler, who was strangled in her crib by a pet python.

A Sumter County jury found 21-year-old mother Jaren Hare and her
live-in boyfriend, 34-year-old Charles "Jason" Darnell, guilty
Thursday of manslaughter, third-degree murder and child neglect.
They each face 35 years in prison. Both previously rejected plea
agreements for 10 years in prison.

Authorities say an 8-foot-6-inch albino Burmese python wrapped
itself around 2-year-old Shianna Hare's head on July 1, 2009.
Testimony revealed the snake had not been fed for a month before
the attack.

Defense attorneys argued that the death was an accident, and
there was no way to know that the tame pet would kill a child.

__________________________________________

UPDATE ----- 7/14/11 ---- Sumter County, Florida

A Florida jury is expected to begin deliberating Thursday afternoon in the controversial snake attack trial.

Jury selection was held Wednesday morning in Sumter County. It will be up to them to decide if the toddler's mother and her boyfriend are responsible for their two year old's death.

Defense attorneys argued there's no evidence their clients committed murder or manslaughter because it was a snake that escaped and killed the two-year old.

The defense asked the judge to dismiss the charges, saying their clients had no knowledge the snake could kill a child. But the judge argued that the danger of snakes is common knowledge.

Evidence showed that the snake was not correctly secured in its cage. The couple had also not fed the python in over a month, which may have led it to hunt for food around the house.

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UPDATE ----- 7/12/11

A 2-year-old Florida girl was strangled in her sleep by a pet python last summer. Now the police have called it murder and are putting the girl's mother and her boyfriend on trial today in Sumter County Florida.

Charles Darnell and Jaren Hare were asked about being accused in baby Shaianna's death.

"We've lost a child. How do you think we feel?" said Darnell.

Defense Attorney Rhiannon Arnold says, "Sometimes there's not anything you can do. Would there have been anything to prevent this. Hindsight is 20/20. We could back and do things, this wasn't something anyone ever dealt with."

They're the first couple in Florida history to be charged with murder because a child in their care was killed by a snake. The couple was not licensed to own an exotic snake. Both tested positive for drug use months before that attack.
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Press Release

Asphyxiation is the preliminary cause of death of Shaianna Hare (DOB 05-20-2007), the 2-year-old Sumter County girl found dead in her crib with the family’s Burmese python wrapped around her body Wednesday morning, according to Lt. Bobby Caruthers of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office.

“The medical examiner’s preliminary report lists asphyxiation as the cause of death and confirmed the marks on the girl’s head and arms are bite marks,” Caruthers said at a press briefing in Bushnell today.

Meanwhile, the python is being cared for at an undisclosed facility licensed to possess this type of snake.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) investigators removed the python and a red-tailed boa constrictor from the residence yesterday after the snakes’ owners voluntarily signed them over to the State of Florida.

A veterinarian examined and treated the python’s stab wounds, and the snake is recovering at the undisclosed facility, where it will remain until officials complete the investigation into the child’s death.

“At this point, the snake is evidence in the case. However, once the case has been concluded, it will be offered as a donation to the facility that is currently caring for it,” said FWC investigator Janice Jones.

The Burmese python, classified by the FWC as a Reptile of Concern, had been stabbed by Charles Jason Darnell (DOB 03-26-77) after he found it wrapped around little Shaianna, his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter, Wednesday morning. Darnell said the snake had escaped its cage sometime during the night.

State law requires that people have permits to possess Burmese pythons, or any Reptile of Concern. Neither Darnell nor his girlfriend, Jaren Ashley Hare (DOB 09-08-89), had a permit for a snake. A permit costs $100 annually, and those wishing to possess such an animal must show on their application their understanding of animal husbandry, nutrition and caging requirements for the particular animal.

One requirement for a Reptile of Concern is that it must be kept under lock and key. The snake was not.

FWC investigators are working in conjunction with the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney for the 5th Judicial Circuit, which covers Sumter, Lake, Marion, Citrus and Hernando counties. The FWC’s role is to investigate and recommend any charges relating to violations of the captive wildlife rules. Such violations are second-degree misdemeanors, which are criminal and carry a maximum penalty of $500 fine and 60 days in jail.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Jim Location: Gadsden County on Aug 25, 2011 at 07:46 AM
    Good. No snakes in the house. No snakes around a child. Snakes in cages. Something that does not respond to my affection is not a pet. It is something looking for its next meal.
  • by dagsdg on Aug 25, 2011 at 07:26 AM
    @ Carrie, I agree with you, what is wrong with these people that they are putting on these juries. If you murder your child and wait that long to call the police. Then you have these people who had a pet snake, who may have locked the snake up before going to bed, but it strangled their child to death. You give them 12 years and set that B**** FREE. She is gonna regret that she did that. People are gonna hate her guts from now on, no matter where she goes. Why hide, u got to eat.
  • by Yanni Location: Tallahassee on Aug 25, 2011 at 04:35 AM
    What the heck is wrong with these peoples having a darn albino Burmese python in their home with a 2 year old child. OMG!!!!!!!! This were a very,very,very, sad story. They SHOULD HAVE BOTH GOTTEN 30 YEARS EACH BCUZ THERE AINT NO WAY IN HECK I WOULD PUT A SNAKE IN MY HOME WITH MY CHILD,BETTER YET I WOULD NEVER EVER PUT A SNAKE IN MY HOME. They both Got what they deserve(Prison Time),but Should have gotten atleast 30 years each one of them! Just Darn Ridiculous,an innocent child lost her life bcuz the parents wanted a snake in their home!!!!!!!! Lord what is this World Coming To?????????????????????????
  • by ConservativeHippie on Aug 25, 2011 at 01:00 AM
    Good. All owners of animals regardless of the species of animal should be held responsible when an animal injures or kills a human just as if the owner had perpetrated the attack them self.
  • by Carrie Location: Perry Florida on Aug 24, 2011 at 03:15 PM
    Only in Florida can a person "Casey Anthony" murder their child & go free but a person who didnt murder their child gets 12 years each in prision what the heck is wrong with the judges & jury in this state. These people should NOT have gotten 12 years each they didnt murder their child. Casey Anthony should be in prison for life she did murder her child. This just proves its who you know & how much money you got to pay the judge & jury off.
  • by Stupid on Aug 24, 2011 at 02:03 PM
    Wow Casey Anthony case has a head removed from the body and she is free. These idiots have a snake wow... the twelve peers did not have symopathy for them. Should have tried Casey plea and lawyer. Money walk and talk for real.
  • by Bob Location: Jasper on Aug 24, 2011 at 12:39 PM
    Mandatory sterilization prior to release should have been in the sentence. The last thing the world needs is more like them.
  • by Lynn Location: georgia on Jul 17, 2011 at 06:28 PM
    They should have gotten Jose as their lawyer
  • by Just me on Jul 17, 2011 at 08:30 AM
    If I were in their position I would have requested the death sentence. I would not want to live a moment longer.
  • by Carrie Location: Perry Florida on Jul 15, 2011 at 12:10 PM
    Only in Florida can parents who didnt murder their child get 35 years in prision because a pet snake killd their kid & a baby killer like casey anthony walks free after murdering her child. What is this world comming to? Dont harm your child go to prision kill your child walk free on the streets to kill again. I say this is BS
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