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Smyrna Mother Pleads Guilty In Toddlers' Heat-Related Deaths

Smyrna Mother Pleads Guilty In Toddlers' Heat-Related Deaths

CREATED Jun 19, 2014
SMYRNA, Tenn. A Smyrna woman has accepted a plea deal in connection with the 2012 heat-related deaths of her two young children.

Samantha Harper pleaded guilty Wednesday in Rutherford County Circuit Court to two counts of attempted aggravated child neglect, and Judge Keith Siskin sentenced her to eight years on each count to be served concurrently. 

She is required to serve 30 percent of the sentence, but would have to serve the full sentences consecutively if she violates conditions of her release. Those conditions include monthly drug testing and having zero contact with children.

With time served, she would be eligible for parole in a little more than two years with time served.

In court, Harper stated she fell asleep, and after waking up found her two children, 3-year-old Daniel Marise and 2-year-old Savannah Marise, face down on the floor board of the unlocked car on August 2, 2012.


The car was in the driveway of the home on Old Nashville Highway. She believed the children found their way out of the house and into the car, which was apparently not driveable.

When she found the children, she called 911. Officials believed the children were in the car for about an hour.

Harper had been originally charged with two counts of felony murder and aggravated child neglect.

Police said the children's father was not home at the time of the incident.

Police also searched Harper's house during their investigation and found what they described as "deplorable" conditions. The house was condemned.

Smyrna police said Harper had no criminal history. However, on September 29, 2011, La Vergne Police filed a child neglect report against Harper, which resulted in a referral to the Department of Children's services.

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