Arizona mom pleads guilty to leaving young sons in hot car

By David Schwartz
Shanesha Taylor, 35, is pictured in this undated handout booking photo from the Scottsdale Police Department obtained by Reuters April 7, 2014. REUTERS/Scottsdale Police Department/Handout via Reuters

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona woman whose tearful mugshot drew nationwide notice pleaded guilty on Monday to child abuse for leaving her two young children in a hot car while she went on a job interview, but will avoid jail time, officials said.

Shanesha Taylor, 36, entered the plea as part of a deal with prosecutors during a hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix, and is due to be sentenced by a court commission on May 15, a court statement said.

The plea agreement was reached two weeks before the Phoenix mother was set to go on trial on child abuse charges for leaving her 6-month-old and 2-year-old sons in child-safety seats in a parked car amid temperatures that reached more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Police said the children were in obvious distress and were sweating profusely when officers arrived at the scene.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Taylor will face a minimum of 10 years of probation and will have to take parenting classes, but is expected to avoid jail time, said Jerry Cobb, spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorneys Office.

Taylor was captured with tears streaming down her face in a booking photo following her arrest, helping vault the case beyond local interest. An online fund-raising effort by a New Jersey woman attracted contributions from across the country totaling nearly $114,000.

Authorities had initially reached a deal with Taylor last July, but that unraveled when she failed to fund court-mandated trust funds for her children.

Prosecutors decided last October to revoke the deal and pursue felony child abuse charges after she missed a deadline to put $40,000 in the trust accounts.

An attorney for Taylor declined comment.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh)