Early morning on July 1, 2009, an 8-foot, 6-inch pet Burmese python escaped from its aquarium and made its way into the crib of a 2-year-old girl where it wrapped itself around the child, asphyxiating her to death.
This week, the guardians of that child, the mother and her boyfriend, stand trial for the child’s death for failing to maintain her safe protection from the animal.
Jaren Hare, 21 and Charles Darnell, 34, are charged with involuntary manslaughter, third-degree murder, and child neglect. If found guilty on all three counts, the couple could face up to 35 years in prison.
The 2-year-old, Shaianna Hare, was strangled in her crib at her mother’s house. The snake, “Gypsy”, also sank its fangs into the child’s face. Dried spots of blood from a sheet were part of the evidence shown to the jury during the first day of trial.
The python was contained in a glass enclosure with only a heavy quilt placed over the exposed top, but nothing else.
Prosecutor Pete Magino opened by telling the six-member jury at Sumter County Courthouse that the adults were responsible for child’s death. On the other side, the defense team characterized the incident as a “terrible accident.”