PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona mother whose sobbing mug shot drew widespread media attention was sentenced to 18 years of supervised probation on Friday for leaving her two young sons in a hot car while she went to a job interview.
Shanesha Taylor, who drew an outpouring of sympathy and support when a teary-eyed photo after her arrest surfaced, was also ordered to attend parenting classes during the sentencing in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix.
Taylor, 36, pleaded guilty in March to one count of child abuse under a deal with county prosecutors that spared her jail time. [ID:nL2N0WI223]
The plea agreement was reached two weeks before she was set to go to trial for leaving her two boys, aged 6 months and 2 years, in a parked car last year amid temperatures that reached more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Authorities found the children strapped in their safety seats, sweating heavily and in distress.
Taylor did not speak during the hearing and declined to comment to a throng of reporters outside the courthouse.
Her lawyer, Valeria Llewellyn, had argued for 10 years probation, and told the court the mother of four is “very remorseful.”
“She wants to move away from this situation. She’s learned from it,” Llewellyn told court commissioner Jeffrey Rueter before sentencing.
“Her children are healthy, happy and thriving ... Now she has an opportunity to put this behind her.”
Prosecutors had requested 18 years of probation, and they questioned whether Taylor was remorseful and her truthfulness throughout the case.
Deputy County Attorney Faith Klepper warned that the days of living off others’ offers of money and jobs are over, and that she must now provide for herself.
“She’s going to have to find a way to support now four children without that generosity,” Klepper said.
The image of Taylor with tears streaming down her face sparked an online fundraising drive by a New Jersey woman that generated $114,000 in donations from people nationwide.
Last July, prosecutors struck a plea deal with Taylor that unraveled after she failed to set up trust funds for her children. Prosecutors decided in October to again pursue child abuse charges after Taylor missed a deadline to deposit $40,000 in a trust fund as mandated under the agreement.
Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Daniel Wallis