Pet python kills baby: Should parents be criminally charged?

Law enforcement officials remove a Burmese python,  measuring more than 8 feet long, from the home where it killed 2-year-old Shaunnia Hare in Oxford, Fla. on Wednesday morning, July 1, 2009. The Sumter County Sheriff's Office said Charles Jason Darnell, the snake's owner and the boyfriend of Shaunnia's mother, discovered the snake missing from its aquarium and went to the girl's room, where he found it on the girl and bite marks on her head. Darnell, 32, stabbed the snake until he was able to pry the child away. (AP Photo/St. Petersburg Times, Will Vragovic)

Law enforcement officials remove a Burmese python, measuring more than 8 feet long, from the home where it killed 2-year-old Shaunnia Hare in Oxford, Fla. on Wednesday morning, July 1, 2009. (AP Photos)

You may have seen the very upsetting story from Florida about the 8 ½-foot-long pet Burmese python that escaped from its glass aquarium in the living room, slithered into a 2-year-old’s bedroom, coiled itself around the baby and killed it.

Now the question is: Should the parents be criminally charged and if so, to what extent?

Ocala.com reports: The parents, 32-year-old Charles Jason Darnell and 23-year-old Jaren Ashley Hare, could face charges ranging from child abuse to aggravated manslaughter. Or no charges at all.

Prosecutors will carefully assess to what degree culpable negligence played a part in the child’s death.

“Culpable negligence is defined as involving acts of such ‘gross and flagrant character’ to evince ‘reckless disregard of human life or of the safety of persons.’ ”

” ‘If [Darnell] is a caregiver and if he acted with culpable negligence, they could consider a charge for aggravated manslaughter of a child,’ said Kendall Coffey, a former U.S. attorney from South Florida, raising one hypothetical scenario.”

Manslaughter, a first-degree felony, is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

“But by his accounts, Stetson University criminal law professor Robert Batey believes culpable negligence can be ‘a fairly difficult standard to reach.’ ”

” ‘Maybe the parents here used pretty poor judgment, but [the state may determine] it doesn’t rise to the level of culpable negligence,’ he said.

“Such factors in reaching a decision, Batey added, include how secure the python’s cage was to the proximity of the cage to the baby’s crib to factual reports that the python had escaped once earlier in the night and was placed back in its cage by the father.”

What do you think: Was it completely beyond their control, just poor judgment, or did they do something criminally wrong? Would you think differently if a large dog attacked and killed the child? Have the parents been punished enough just knowing their pet killed their baby? (I can’t even imagine living with that! I want to go up and check my 2-year-old right now!) What would an appropriate punishment be?


109 comments Add your comment

penguinmom

July 13th, 2009
12:08 am

They have already received a life sentence. Nothing the state could do to them will be any worse than living with their child’s death nor will it bring back the baby. Prosecuting them will not serve any purpose since it will not serve as a deterrent to other parents with poor judgment.

It is a very sad situation.

Ex-Atlantan

July 13th, 2009
12:48 am

Not enough info to judge. Could the people have predict the snake would get out — for example, had it escaped before? Or did they take reasonable precautions, and something really weird happened? Those are the sorts of questions you have to answer. Just having a snake in the house probably isn’t enough for a charge — all houses have things in them that could kill a toddler — so the question is how they handled the snake.

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deidre_NC

July 13th, 2009
6:29 am

as many things that there are that can hurt a child…things we pretty much have to have…why even think of having something around that isnt totally neccessary when you have small children. as for being charged…i dont think there are laws against stupidity-too bad for that. i do feel sorry for theseparents…how horrible..what a nightmare…but geeze–keep potentially dangerous ‘pets’ away from kids…i have known people who own snakes and everyone of them escaped at some point…what a sad tragic thing.

MomsRule

July 13th, 2009
6:50 am

Based upon the info provided here it sounds like an accident. Dogs/cats etc can all harm/kill children. Should all parents be held criminally negligent when a tragic accident like this occurs? I think not. Its easy for people that have no desire to own a snake to blame the parents. “They should not have had one.” You have the same risk with a dog. ALL dogs can be potentially dangerous. Now if facts come to light that the python roamed free or escaped regularly my opinion would change.

Andrea

July 13th, 2009
7:38 am

In looking at the information as it has been presented, this seems like a terrible, terrible accident. I agree without all of the facts, it is hard to judge the case fairly. The parents have already been dealt a life sentence anyway.

amari's mom

July 13th, 2009
7:51 am

am i the only one that wished amusement centers (6 flags, whitewater, etc.) had chaperone’s pricing! they miss out on my money because i don’t feel i should have to pay full price just to walk around the park while my daughter rides the rides…give me an armband or a stamp that indicates i can’t ride rides (the reason why i don’t want to pay – i don’t ride the rides!) and let me in to buy souvenirs and junk food! $ 5.00 sounds good…!

JJ

July 13th, 2009
8:28 am

I am TOTALLY against owning exotic animals of any kind. Animals like snakes, birds, etc need to be in the wild, not in a cage. They are not domesticated animals.

While I’m sorry for this family’s loss, what will happen to the snake? Will it get destroyed for being a snake and doing what comes naturally? Will it be destroyed because it acted on instinct?

What a shame, but you just shouldn’t have “pets” like this with children of any age. Snakes are NOT pets. They should NOT be stuck in a cage.

Monica

July 13th, 2009
8:28 am

It was an accident mainly because I don’t think the parents wanted the snake to escape and harm the child. However, I do think it was negligent. Why have such an animal in close proximity of a young child, who is basically helpless? What is the difference between negligence in this case and negligence in leaving a child in a car while you shop at Wal-Mart?

Kaye

July 13th, 2009
8:37 am

They had not feed the snake for a month, had the snake in an unsecure case and left the snake and baby unwatched…yes they should be charged and FIXED! They abused the snake and allowed the child to be killed. They should not be allowed to have animals or children ever again!

J.D.

July 13th, 2009
8:37 am

I agree totally with the way PenguinMom summed it up. They’ve suffered a penalty far worse than anything else. Maybe this sad event will make other parents reassess their situations and take the necessary actions.

bufordmomof4

July 13th, 2009
8:38 am

As long as it was contained properly and safely, then I think it was just a horrible accident. I have much more of an issue with families who keep dangerous dogs around their children. How many kids have to be mauled before people wake up?

new mom

July 13th, 2009
8:44 am

I am reading the others’ comments, and yes, there are dangers in every house. We have to make sure the bath water isn’t too hot, the furniture is strapped to the walls, etc. But my mind keeps coming back to–dang, an 8 foot python? Isn’t that just asking for trouble? I would have to categorize that as an unnecessary risk. I mean, at some point, they had to realize they were risking their very child’s life.

As far as criminal charges, I don’t know what I think. Like Deidre said, there are no laws against stupid. I’m not sure that charges would help this particular situation, or make other people realize that they could face the same fate (’that would never happen to us’….)

Jessica

July 13th, 2009
8:45 am

I don’t know about the legality of it, but it is wrong and stupid to keep as a pet any animal that might view a family member as prey.

Paddy

July 13th, 2009
8:45 am

Charge them with negligence not manslaughter. Let them do a couple years in jail and then have the rest of their life to think about it. What a couple of MAROONS. Hope they don’t move to Ga., we already have plenty like them here already.

catlady

July 13th, 2009
8:46 am

Would it be a “horrible accident” if they kept a loaded gun where the 2 year old might get it? A gun’s “role” is to shoot. A python’s “role, ie instinct” is to kill to eat. What exactly is the difference?

Some things are more dangerous than others. Keeping a constrictor around anyone is one of them.

This from someone whose son was horribly hurt in a true freak accident.

SP

July 13th, 2009
8:49 am

Am I the only one who thinks the parents were negligent? The parents have to ensure the safety of their children. To me, these parents had the equivalent of a loaded gun in their house. Accidents will happen, but if you can prevent it, it’s not an “accident”. I had to give away a great dog I had loved for years because he started to get aggressive after our first baby. I loved the dog, but loved my baby more.

motherjanegoose

July 13th, 2009
8:51 am

@ Kaye: They abused the snake and allowed the child to be killed. They should not be allowed to have animals or children ever again!

We could fill in any animal’s name for snake….like this is going to ever happen? What about those who live in a drug induced stupor and have kids or pets? Or those who continue to have kids and no means to care for them.

Having lived on the farm as a girl, I cannot imagine having snakes inside…maybe it is just me.

Aren’t some animals typically considered domestic (ated)? Are pythons?

JJ: I thought you were at the beach?

motherjanegoose

July 13th, 2009
8:57 am

KICK me….here is the answer to my question, I googled it:
A domestic animal is an animal that can live with Human.
Such as dogs, cats, rats, snakes, lizards, turtles, ect
A domesticated animal is any animal that depends on a human for food, water and shelter this includes farm animals such as cattle, horses, sheep, etc… as well as dogs and cats and other house pets.

Gina

July 13th, 2009
8:57 am

I agree with JJ, I can guarantee you the snake will be destroyed for doing what it’s instinct tells it to do. Just like dogs when a child goes in a fence which is the dog’s territory and the dog bites or kills the child…Who’s punished the dog….THAT MY FRIENDS IS NOT FAIR…. Poor snake didn’t need to be in a container anyway……Hope god takes care of all animals that are destroyed because of stupidity……

Just a Thought

July 13th, 2009
9:07 am

I think people should be required to obtain a permit to keep any egzotic pet. A permit should be given only to people who want to keep an egzotic pet AND are educated about such pet AND have proper conditions to do so. Snakes became more of a “fashion statement” lately and many people buy them in a store without even knowing much about dangers of keeping such animal. I lived in the NYC and we had an incident where a python escaped from its cage and somehow in a month neighbors living 5 floors up found it. The point is that once you have a snake, entire building/street may be in danger. That python could have travelled a few doors down and killed someone else’s baby.

From what i read, the step-father killed the snake the minute he saw it. I think these people were already punished. They did not harm the baby intentionally. I believe it was a very sad accident.

Becky

July 13th, 2009
9:11 am

Like others, its hard for me to say what shoud happen to these to..Reading this blog is the first that I’ve heard of this..Deidre, I’m so with you..You can’t fix stupid, I’ve been trying for years with some of my family…Hopefully, this was just an accident and they will learn from this..If they find out that this wasn’t an accident,then yes they should be charged with something..

Professor

July 13th, 2009
9:12 am

Ok, I read this article and I really feel bad for the child. I cannot imagine the pain that baby went through. As for the parents they will carry a sentence for the rest of their lives so I do not see the need to charge them any further.

@ Gina I agree with you about animals being punished for doing what is natural.

JATL

July 13th, 2009
9:15 am

I think they’ve been punished enough. I also think they’re idiots, but hey -when did that stop anyone from breeding? Our judicial and prison systems are overrun enough without taking people who actually aren’t criminals and turning them into criminals. It would be different if they put the snake in the crib with the baby. They obviously should have exercised better judgement in securing the snake (or having one at all), but they don’t deserve a long, drawn-out trial and prison. They’ll live with this for the rest of their lives.

motherjanegoose

July 13th, 2009
9:19 am

JATL….would you please answer the question I directed to you on Friday’s post? Thanks!

Mo's mom

July 13th, 2009
9:23 am

Animals were designed to be pets in the first place. They need to be left in their natural habitats.

Mo's mom

July 13th, 2009
9:24 am

Correction: Animals were NOT designed to be pets in the first place. They need to be left in their natural habitats.

JJ

July 13th, 2009
9:26 am

MJG – vacation starts Wednesday…….two more days……

ant banks

July 13th, 2009
9:31 am

Yes, charge the parents. Because of their ignorance or stupidity, a baby has died and the snake will probably be destroyed, too. The loss of 2 lives at the hand of these adults and you all don’t want anyone charged? wtf?

Brian

July 13th, 2009
9:32 am

Electric chair for the parents! Obviously, they are and will never be any good to the society. A python as a pet? WHY? At least chemical castration should be considered so they will never spawn another one.

motherjanegoose

July 13th, 2009
9:37 am

JJ…have fun! Mo’s mom…are you talking about ALL animals? Sorry but we love our dog and she thinks she is a person LOL.

Jim n Buckhead

July 13th, 2009
9:38 am

This family lost their baby which is awful. However, why is owning a python any different then owning a tiger or a monkey…they are wild animals and should not be pets…people can barely handle dogs and cats with a baby or little ones in the house you have to be carefull as well…..my sister n law has a pit bull they swear up and down how sweet he is but I wont let my kids near that dog…and the one time he was when I was not there he bit my kid….they were just playing but he bit him on the leg…

Professor

July 13th, 2009
9:38 am

I wonder when the last time the snake had been fed? I thought pythons only ate like once a week or something—–> did the parents forget to feed the snake? How long had the snake been out? I mean common sense would tell a fool that an 8 1/2 foot python out of the cage (possibly hungry) is going for the child.

ntuj

July 13th, 2009
9:52 am

People that cage wild animals are idiots period. The stupid parents deserve it. I hope they have more children and raise an alligator or a more aggressive reticulating python next time.

Stan

July 13th, 2009
9:53 am

From the article: “The Humane Society of the United States said including Wednesday’s death, at least 12 people have been killed in the U.S. by pet pythons since 1980″

It was an accident. They could have done a better job of securing the snake in its aquarium, but in the end it was just a horrible accident that the folks will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

I also would give props to the dad who stabbed the snake without pause so that he could get the child away from the snake. This also says to me that it was accidental.

JATL

July 13th, 2009
9:57 am

And I totally agree that snakes don’t belong caged in a person’s home! Why do people want “exotic” pets anyway? These reptiles and animals belong in the wild or in a larger habitat where they’re properly cared for and not a danger to those around them. Given the havoc pythons are wreaking on the Everglades because too many idiots got them and then dumped them when they were tired of them, and the fact that they’re BIG dangerous snakes, I think they should be illegal as pets.

Nana2ryansam

July 13th, 2009
9:57 am

This is such a tragedy! My son and daughter-in-law and the same kind of python when she became pregnant with their first child. They gave the snake away before the baby was born.

BigJake

July 13th, 2009
10:02 am

It is likely true that is was a tragic accident, but negligence is clearly in play here since having a dangerous “pet” in close proximity to small, defenseless children created a dangerous situation. Parents should do all they can to protect their children, and I do not agree with anyone that says prosecution will not provide any determent for others. I think that making people pay for their stupidity might cause others to think twice, or at least THINK! I cannot fathom the pain the mother is feeling, just like the case here in Cobb County recently where a mother left her 5 week-old child in a car with a 12 year-old that caused her death. That case screams for a negligence charge to make sure something like this never happens again. It is a shame that we make people take and pass tests to be able to drive, but to become a parent doesn’t.

Theresa Bowling

July 13th, 2009
10:08 am

I think they should be charged. Why was the child still asleep at 10:00AM and the parents too? The snake should have never been in the house and I would like to know why the mother didn’t speak up to this man that wasn’t the childs father. Now he will have the mother all to himself. How Convienant! I think people are stupid in general. Poor child should have been living with her real dad. There is no difference in having a swimming pool without a fence and having small children or a gun in the house or a damn snake anywhere near a child, (caged or not). The justice system sucks, they will probably get a smack on the wrist!

HB

July 13th, 2009
10:09 am

I think they should be charged with some sort of negligence. Yes, they have already suffered, but this was unbelievably stupid. As someone wrote earlier, snakes get out of cages! I had a bio teacher whose classroom snake (small, nonpoisonous, native) was constantly escaping. I also worked at a children’s nature museum, whose small, native, harmless snake got out on occasion. Keeping a huge snake that kills prey by coiling around it in a home with a toddler is just incredibly irresponsible.

JATL

July 13th, 2009
10:18 am

MJG -my response is under Friday’s topic. The parents of the kids I taught were exactly the kind of parents who would keep dangerous snakes, pit bulls, tigers, etc. around their small children. Not really the type who would ever help (or be able to help) their kids with a paper ;-)

JJ

July 13th, 2009
10:20 am

Hijacking – I have a good one for you guys……

My neighbor’s daughter is 19, and has a 15 month old child, with her boyfriend (who is currently under house arrest), and they are living together. They drink heavily and fight and scream in front of the child.

My neighbor’s daughter was sick with a kidney infection, and came to stay at my nieghbor’s house for a few days, along with the baby. While she was away, the boyfriend
“fooled” around with another girl at his house. Friends of the couple told my neighbor, and the girl fessed up too. She said they didn’t have sex, but did just about everything else.

Would you tell your daughter about her boyfriend?

When they start drinking and fighting, would you go get the baby and get her out of harms way?

What would you do?

As a mother, it’s my first instinct to protect my child. I would go get my child and bring her to my house, have someone watch the baby for a couple of hours, and tell my daughter what I know……..

What do you all think? I’m not involved, but I told her I would go get MY daughter…..

RJ

July 13th, 2009
10:21 am

Well said HB! I have never understood wny anyone would want to have a snake as a pet. While in college I knew of a couple of people that had them and they ALWAYS got out! That’s why I never went to their house, I’m terrified of snakes! They were negligent and should be charged with something.

DB

July 13th, 2009
10:24 am

What kind of punishment could the state throw at them that would be worse than what they are already putting themselves through? The prison system is to punish and rehabilitate. I would imagine that they will NEVER have another pet such as that python, and they will live with the guilt, grief and horror for the rest of their lives. I don’t see how stuffing them into a jail cell is going to benefit a) society or b) “teach” them a lesson.

HB

July 13th, 2009
10:35 am

DB, in a lot of cases, I would agree with you, but this to me was just such an error in judgement. For example, I disagree with prosecuting parents who accidentally leave a child in the car, and it’s clearly an accident. It’s a tragic mental lapse that the parent is suffering enough. However, I do think we should prosecute parents who leave their children in cars because they can’t find a babysitter, don’t want to deal with taking them into the store, etc. That’s an actively bad choice. I think having a python in the house is closer to the second scenario.

DB

July 13th, 2009
10:38 am

JJ: Oh, hell yeah, I would DEFINITELY tell my daughter. Why protect that POS? The boyfriend is bad, bad news, and nothing good is going to come of this. Let’s see — he’s under house arrest, he’s screwing around with another girl the minute his sick girlfriend is away . . . what’s the long-term good to come out of this? The girlfriend was sick and the BF couldn’t be bothered to care for her and the baby, so she had to go stay with a neighbor? What’s wrong with the picture?

The trouble is, the mom can’t go “get” her daughter, because the daughter is of age and is obviously the independent sort, anyway. I know the urge to swoop in and “protect” her is an extraordinarily strong maternal instinct — but the mom is out of luck, here. She can’t protect someone who is too stupid or “in luuuvvvvv” to realize they are in a poisonous relationship. At this point, I’d be tempted to focus on the baby, to make sure that the baby wasn’t a victim of the cross-fire between daughter and boyfriend.

I think I’d have a heart-to-heart with the daughter and, for the baby’s sake, think about trying to get temporary custody of the baby until my daughter started thinking with her head and not with her hormones. I would strongly urge her to consider AA, and even if she didn’t, I would make a point of going to Al-Anon and make sure she knew that I was going because of my concern for HER.

FCM

July 13th, 2009
10:58 am

@ Just a Thought — the permit IS required to keep a python. This family does not have the permit.

The snake was moved to a safehouse where a permit carrying person lives. Thus the snake may or may not be destroyed.

The snake was still alive when removed….the Boyfriend stabbed the snake only until it moved off the toddler.

@Kaye please provide the link that says they had not fed the snake in a month. I have not found anything that stated the snake was abused, unfed for long periods etc….The snake may have been acting toward the child as a threat rather than as food source.

There was an allogation that the snake had gotten out once before that same night. In which case somebody should have been up checking on the snake.

As to other harmful pets. There are many pets that should not be family members. I friends who raised rattlers (I refused to step inside their property lines). They wisely stopped this business of milking rattlers (and they had a python, a cobra and few others too) and got rid of all the snakes before they had children.

If I cannot have a dog over 75lbs in my building you should not be able to have a snake that could get out and ‘visit’ in the building either. (That at the person who was in NYC).

This is horrible and its questionable whether we have enough facts to censure or make judgement. (Although I censure having snakes of any kind in the home incase you missed that!) No matter what these people will live forever with the pain of the loss of that child.

DB

July 13th, 2009
11:01 am

HB: I have to admit, I am not entirely easy with my opinion, either, because I am aware that I absolutely LOATHE snakes. Eeuuww!! The death that the child suffered by python is, to me, the stuff of nightmares.

However . . . would a parent be held equally responsible for a child drowning in a backyard pool? Backyard pools claim FAR more children’s deaths than pythons. Would people be declaiming “How irresponsible of the parents to have a POOL while having a small child!” The sympathetic responses would be, “Oh, no, the child slipped out . . .” (hmm . . .) or “You can’t watch a child every SECOND of the day,” or “it can happen so fast!”, etc., etc. to make the parents feel less guilty.

Snakes, however, wake a subliminal sense of dread in many people, and I think that distaste may be prompting some of the cries for punishment that parents of a drowning victim would not incur, while, in my mind, facing the same degree of responsibility. I don’t think that parents of drowning victims should be carted off to jail for negligence — why should these parents? I have no idea about the family dynamics involved, whose snake it was, etc., how late they were up the night before (child was sick? parent was sick or working the night shift?)

The assignment of blame may make others feel better (”I’m in control, I would never do something like that, ipso facto, my children are safer”), but I think that, in this case, it was just a tragic mishap. If the snake had never attacked a family member or pet before, the family could have been lulled into a false sense of security — just like parents with a “pool alarm” or “baby-proof” fence may have a little more comfort with their swimming pool.

Still — snakes . . . *shudder*

FCM

July 13th, 2009
11:03 am

*OH and incase you missed it last week the AJC ran an article about how the pythons are migrating (they think) into GA….So it can be happening here next. The everglades are over run so they are coming north…they are not indigenous (sp?) to the area. There is research being conducted in Savannah to see if they can survive in our climate.*

Denise

July 13th, 2009
11:15 am

Wow. I hadn’t heard about this and wish I never had. This is terrible. I’m not sure how I feel about charging them with a crime that may give them 30 years in prison. I think there should be a charge with negligence but honestly, I don’t know what would be fair yet sufficient in penalty.

Becky

July 13th, 2009
11:24 am

Theresa Bowling, what does the fact that the baby was asleep at 10am have to do with anything?

HB, how do you accidentally leave a baby in the car? To me that is not an accident..You forget a purse, you forget a bag, you forget your cell phone, you do NOT forget a baby…That’s just my opinion..

jmb

July 13th, 2009
11:37 am

Did anyone else catch the story on GMA this morning about moms that eat from the same spoon of their babies passing germs & cavities to them through the process? I thought it was quite interesting and with some of the overprotective moms on this blog, it should give you one more thing to worry about.

HB

July 13th, 2009
11:40 am

Becky, sadly it’s not uncommon. Gene Weingarten wrote an amazing story on this a few months ago for the Washington Post Magazine: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/27/AR2009022701549.html. Make sure to have tissues handy before reading.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

July 13th, 2009
12:12 pm

I just found two very funny videos on Funny or Die.com — They are spoofs of what Jon and Kate might say if they were on Match.com! I just posted both videos in the entry above this one — check it out — they’re pretty funny.

JJ

July 13th, 2009
12:15 pm

How do you pass cavities to others?

HB

July 13th, 2009
12:34 pm

I’m pretty freaked out by snakes too, DB, so yeah, you may be right about the creepiness factor. I guess to me, the difference between a pool and a snake is that the pool’s actions are predictable, while the snake’s aren’t, so it’s a lot easier to put precautions in place for the pool. Kids’ actions aren’t predictable, making the pool dangerous — the snake is dangerous all on its own. I’m also horrified by families with little ones owning pit bulls, but a lot of people claim it’s the dog’s training, not the dog that’s the issue, so I may be wrong on that too. For environmental reasons, I do think these snakes should be illegal to own. One showed up at my mom’s house in coastal georgia a few years back that was apparently an escaped pet. Last thing we need is these creatures thriving in Georgia marshes and swamps.

JJ

July 13th, 2009
12:56 pm

Snakes are the number 1 reason I don’t own lake front, or coastal real estate……as much as I would LOVE to have a lake house, I don’t want the critters that come with Lakes…….

TKH

July 13th, 2009
1:18 pm

Personally, I would hate to have a snake in my house and not just for safety reasons. I don’t care for caged animals. But I’m having a hard time equating this to a crime and not just an accident. Another poster said they didn’t have a license which is illegal as far as I know, and that does seem punishable. But I don’t see the child’s death as something that should lead to prosecution. Just a sad, tragic accident.

JJ

July 13th, 2009
1:28 pm

I certainly don’t think the parents should spend the rest of their lives in jail, nor should there be an expensive trial.

They are already paying an unimaginable price for their stupidity.

jmb

July 13th, 2009
1:33 pm

JJ- They were interviewing a dentist and she said the bacteria from the cavity and also gum diseases can pass this way. I thought it was wierd too. And don’t worry about snakes on the water. I’ve had lakefront property for most of my life and never had one come in my yard that I know of. Waterbugs are the only pests that frequent and a good spraying twice a year takes care of those so don’t stress the lake life until you live it. At least you don’t sweat any drive by shootings on the lake :)

JJ

July 13th, 2009
1:33 pm

DB – Thanks for your wonderful response to my hijacking question. I printed it out and I am going to show my neighbor what you wrote.

I basically told her the same thing.

I also told my daughter that if she was ever in an abusive relationship and I knew about it, that I would go and get her and take her far, far away from the situation. I don’t care how old she is, she’s my daughter FIRST!!!! And if anyone lays a hand on her, they will have to deal with me!!!!! And I know how to use a gun.

I love Bill Envall’s line when a boy comes and picks up his daughter – “You better be careful with my daughter, because I’m not afraid to go back to jail”……

Becky

July 13th, 2009
1:35 pm

HB, I know it’s not uncommon, I still just don’t think that this is an accident..

JJ

July 13th, 2009
1:39 pm

Thanks jmb…….I wasn’t sure how cavities were passed to others. I shared eating utensils with my daugther when she was little.

The Voice

July 13th, 2009
1:42 pm

I am a male paramedic and I see death and injury and illness everyday. I know from my 30 years expierence that mothers have an inborn ability to recgonize what is safe and what is not safe for their children. This mother obviously ignored all the warning signs of keeping such an animal in the house. What if they had left a loaded gun in the crib. How about a rattlesnake, a rabid dog, a scalding bath or spaning with a leather belt. All those examples are things I have seen and they were all totally preventable except for the stupidity of the parents involved. Yes they sould be charged, their other children taken away (and I don’t say that often) and they should be jailed….I’m just sayin.

TKH

July 13th, 2009
2:02 pm

Anyone else caught the recent headline about the 3-year-old who shot himself in the stomach playing with a gun? What is wrong with these parents who expose their children to such dangerous situations??

DB

July 13th, 2009
2:02 pm

Re: The cavities. So . . . does that mean you shouldn’t kiss someone who might have cavities? Hmm . . .

JJ

July 13th, 2009
2:25 pm

Did anyone just see the front page of the AJC? A Three year old boy found a 9mm handgun at shot himself in the stomach. He’s in critical condition.

HB

July 13th, 2009
2:40 pm

Becky, I guess I don’t understand what you mean by not an accident. I mean completely unintentionally forgetting the child is in the car. Sleep-deprived, stressed-out parents forgetting to drop their child off at day care on the way to work — that sort of thing. The frequency of these incidents has gone way up in recent years with the use of rear-facing car seats installed in the back seat.

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BigJake

July 13th, 2009
2:45 pm

And the mother won’t be charged? WHAT?!? How about criminal negligence for allowing a child to find and use a gun? Is there not a law on the books that provides for this punishment? And just like the python case and the mother at the local Target, would not prosecution help send the message about not putting your children in a dangerous situation, if not only to protect them but also to avoid jail? I wish I could say that I am amazed, but woefully, these things happen all too frequently.

JJ

July 13th, 2009
2:59 pm

The three year old apparently found the gun around 11:00 PM…….they story says the mom was sleeping……but my question is where was the gun for a 3 year old to find it?

catlady

July 13th, 2009
3:05 pm

So we have a 3 year old…awake….at 11 pm….unsupervised while adults slept…..in a house with a loaded gun. How much more negligent can someone be?

DB

July 13th, 2009
3:15 pm

catlady, I agree that having a loaded gun lying around is beyond stupid. However, I can easily see a child waking up after the parents have gone to sleep. We have no idea, but yeah, if I were a parent and had had a tough day, was tired or sick, I’d be in bed by 11 pm and not think twice about it if I had put my three-year-old to bed a few hours earlier. If the child woke up and went exploring . . . good grief, how many times do you think that probably happens and we were never aware of it?!

FCM

July 13th, 2009
3:15 pm

Unless your name is VOLDEMORT you probably don’t need an 8.5 ft snake.

jmb

July 13th, 2009
3:21 pm

DB – I wished someone had asked about that but it lasted about all of two mins…. so not too much more was discussed other than using the same utensils.

catlady

July 13th, 2009
3:22 pm

In defense of the snake: Our vet brings animals to school each year to teach the children. One thing he brings is a boa. This is a very well kept boa, well fed, and, if you like snakes, (I do NOT) a very beautiful and healthy animal. He handles it, allows teachers to handle it, and allows the children to touch (and a few) to handle it. The thing is, even though it is well fed and cared for, its body tells it to wrap around and squeeze. So you have to watch it, because it will do what nature intends and get a “little too close”. Luckily it moves slowly.

On leaving children in the car: You get out of the car. You make sure you have your keys. AND YOU MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE CHILDREN YOU STARTED OUT WITH.

On having an unfenced in pool: I believe that is illegal. At least you are 100% liable if a child dies and the pool was unsecured (see attractive nuisance).

On having a gun in the house with children:are you NUTS?

On sleeping (at all) from the time your baby is born until they are at least 18: ARE YOU NUTS? I have not slept well in almost 34 years.

HB

July 13th, 2009
3:23 pm

Given that another child and two adults were asleep, I think the 3-year-old probably woke up on his own after being put to bed and went exploring. There is no excuse for having an accessible gun, though. Several news magazines have shown children walking straight to drawers and closets to retrieve guns “hidden” but not locked away, and of course, the parents were always certain that the children didn’t know the gun was there. So very sad…

Denise

July 13th, 2009
4:06 pm

I don’t think having an unfenced in pool should be illegal, nor should the owners be held liable for anyone who was UNAUTHORIZED to be at their house. Of course children don’t understand the word trespassing but at a certain point, I don’t know why someone would have to protect others who aren’t supposed to be at their house anyway. That’s like when homeowners getting in trouble for shooting robbers. Why does the CRIMINAL get rights when they are breaking into MY home. (I’m sensitive to this because my home was broken into – nothing was taken, praise God – and I’ve been afraid to get a gun because I feel like I’ll get in trouble for shooting at someone who wasn’t supposed to be at my house in the first place. And I am single, live alone, don’t have kids, don’t have many kids visiting so I should be okay on the kids front if I ever decide to get one.)

On the topic – Is there a law that you have to house a snake, reptile, tarantula, etc. in a particular cage/aquarium/etc.? If there is a law and the parents broke said law, then I can see bringing criminal charges against them. I’m still not feeling the “up to 30 years in prison” though.

DB

July 13th, 2009
4:08 pm

FCM: ROFL!!!!!!!!!! And look what happened to Nagini!

Becky

July 13th, 2009
4:24 pm

I mean that I don’t understand how any Mother could forget that her child is in the car…I just can’t think of anything that would cause a Mother to forget that her child is in the car..If you are that sleep deprived or stressed out, you should not be driving a car..

Could be that the 3 year old woke up after he had been to sleep for a couple of hours or so?

penguinmom

July 13th, 2009
4:42 pm

Becky, you should read the article posted earlier by HB. These were not slackard parents that this happened to. These were caring, attentive parents who had a horrible mental slip. Anyone who thinks they are incapable of this is judging circumstances they don’t understand.

The interesting thing to me in the article was that two NASA colleagues of one the parents have developed an inexpensive device that would alarm if the child was in the car after the ignition as turned off. They haven’t been able to find ANY companies to back their product because no parent believes they would do this so the companies don’t believe it would sell. How sad that something cheap that could have saved all of these babies lives can’t be produced because of those who think they are better parents.

HB

July 13th, 2009
4:46 pm

Becky, one researcher in the article I posted earlier gives an interesting explanation, saying that our brains do not always prioritize the things we want to remember the way we do when we consciously think through a list. In many cases, the accident was the result of a disruption of the usual routine. For example–Mom usually takes baby to daycare, but for some reason Dad needed to one day, he put baby in the car, then proceeded to drive his usual route to work without dropping the baby off. People slide into auto-pilot mode, and things — even very important things — slip their minds. In both the article and the chat that followed a few days later, several parents (including Weingarten) told of “there but for the grace God” moments where they had forgotten the children were there until they suddenly heard them speak/cry. One man told of a time that he and his wife each thought the other had picked up their child from daycare and were horrified to think of the consequences such a lapse could have had in the morning, rather than after work. It’s scary, and I think most people would like to believe that it could never happen to a conscientious parent, but sadly, it does.

penguinmom

July 13th, 2009
4:50 pm

Denise, I would agree if there had never been a case of a young child getting out of the house without his parents knowing. The 3-year-old isn’t aware of trespassing and before you are even aware of the trespass, he could be dead if your pool isn’t fenced. It should be our responsibility as a community to help prevent harm to our neighbors. That’s one reason you can’t let your dog run loose and why you aren’t allowed to shoot a gun in a residential area.
You might not have kids at your house but what about any of the houses on your street? I have a friend whose youngest son drowned in a neighbor’s pool when he was visiting a friend’s house.

JATL

July 13th, 2009
5:13 pm

Having a loaded gun ANYWHERE a 3 year old can get to it on his own is negligent! I have a 3 year old. The one reason I do not own a gun is because I have a 3 year old who is not quite as good at listening as I was growing up around guns. My 3 year old is secured in his bedroom at night so he can’t “go exploring” all over our house and get into God knows what and hurt himself! Companies make baby gates and butterfly latches for these purposes people! We have a large house, and it’s baby-child proofed for the most part, but I’m not taking chances -especially since he is great at figuring out things like baby gate latches, child proof latches, etc.

Anyway -I think the snake people have been punished enough even though they were (are) stupid and neglectful. Snakes are pets for some people and their sole purpose isn’t to kill or injure. Regardless, their child is dead. However a handgun is for shooting people. Period. Leaving a loaded one anywhere a child can access it is EXTREMELY negligent and beyond stupid. I only hope this child recovers! At the very least, DFACS should put them on a visiting rotation to check for dangers in that home. I think the mother should be cited in some way if not fully charged.

Denise

July 13th, 2009
5:39 pm

Penguinmom – I said I was good on the “gun” issue because I don’t have children at the house that can get hurt. I am deathly afraid of shooting a gun so I just used that as an example of how trespassers are given more rights than the homeowners.

As for the kids and the pool, yes, I think it is responsible for everyone to safeguard the people in their community to a certain extent. Of course, I’d die 2 deaths if I saw a child dead in my pool (don’t have one) because he/she got out of the house and wandered over. My point is that I think it’s more of a community responsibility rather than a legal issue.

motherjanegoose

July 13th, 2009
6:11 pm

Denise, we have known of two families that had unattended children ( who wandered off) that died at the lake and at the pool.

One was where the mother thought the dad had the girl and the dad thought the mother had the girl, they were at the parent’s lake house. This was a responsible family.

The other was a professional family ( at work) who had a live in nanny in Texas, and the kids got out into the back yard and BOTH drowned in their own pool.

I DO NOT want a pool in my back yard. I am thrilled that we have one in our neighborhood, with a key code to enter. When I grew up, we had an above ground pool and there were kids who wandered over self invited, for a swim. We had to take the ladder out of the pool, when we were not home. I am not sure this would fly now. We did not have a fenced in yard. Freak accidents with children happen so quickly.

I have a fenced yard now and my neighbor’s kids play ball between our houses and hop over the fence, to get the ball. We put the gate on the other side, as we do not want them to leave the gate open and let our dog out ( re: same neighbor whose friend ran over our previous dog last year and it died). I had a chat with our neighbor about how this will weaken our fence or the kids could get hurt. She agreed. Kids today, think nothing of going into neighbor’s yards….

My husband has just now mentioned getting a gun and I o.k. with it now that our kids are 17 and 22. Not sure I would be able to sleep if they were little. We did have guns on the farm, but there again when my parents told us NOT to touch things…we did not DREAM of doing so unless we wanted our pants on fire.

deidre_NC

July 13th, 2009
9:52 pm

jj i love that…not afraid to go back to jail lol i will definately have to remember that one….cracked me up!! have a blast at the beach…wish i was going:)

deidre_NC

July 13th, 2009
9:57 pm

“On sleeping (at all) from the time your baby is born until they are at least 18: ARE YOU NUTS? I have not slept well in almost 34 years” catlady

omg after the day i had thanks yall for the laughs…that was hysterical and so danged true!!! lmao

catlady

July 14th, 2009
6:42 am

And now comes the “mama” who drops her 3 year old off at “daddy’s” but apparently doesn’t make sure the kid gets in the door and he is found wandering on the highway. Is stupid catching?

deidre_NC

July 14th, 2009
7:02 am

rolls eyes….geeze

Becky

July 14th, 2009
8:55 am

HB and penguinmom, I get it that people leave their kids in the car..I guess I just don’t let anything stress me out enough to forget to get them out of the car..Even with all of the dufus people in my family, none of them have ever left a child in the car…

I’m 47 years old and have a nephew that is only 6 1/2 years younger than me..Everywhere I went growing up, h e went with me,even after I started driving..Never once did I forget him..

Becky

July 14th, 2009
9:06 am

catlady, it goes back to what you (I think) said yesterday..You can’t fix stupid..As I said about leaving babies in the car, where could this “Mother” have been in such a hurry to get to that she didn’t make sure the child was in the house..NOWHERE..No job, date or anything is worth more than the safety of your child…

Denise

July 14th, 2009
12:40 pm

motherjanegoose, I wasn’t suggesting that kids do not wander off and end up in terrible situations. I know that and I get sick every time I even hear about it. I have known adults to drown so I know the dangers to kids. Plus I’m not the greatest swimmer; I know enough to get to the wall of a pool (don’t go farther than waist high at the beach if that) so I would not expect that children who may fall in can safely get out of the pool or lake. My point is only that while it is responsible for people to fence in their pools – I am not debating the need for that – just don’t see it as a LEGAL issue. My mother’s pool at her last home was fenced in with a lock requiring a key that was too high for a child to reach. and she suspected older/taller kids of tampering with the lock. Who, then, would be legally responsible if the kids got in and were hurt or worse? At what point do we say “okay you’ve done what you should do so you are not held accountable for this”?

bufordmomof4

July 14th, 2009
3:31 pm

Denise, we just put in a pool, and it was told to us that a five foot fence had to be around the pool/or the backyard. We have a 4-foot fence around our entire backyard, but that wouldn’t be up to code. If I was single, I would have thought that ridiculous. If a child enter my FENCED backyard, I cannot help that. But we have young children, so there’s was NO way I would ever put a pool in without a safety fence around it. So, we installed a five-foot metal safety fence. It locks with a key, has self closing entrances, and is 5 foot tall. The mechanism to unlock it is at the top (5-foot high) so no little kids can access it. They’d never figure out how to do it, it’s very inconspicuous. Most adults get stuck outside our pool entrance. It’s pretty funny.

I actually think a locked four foot fence around our property should be sufficient to keep other people’s kids out, but apparently that’s not what the building code says. But, like you, I sleep well with our safety fence around ours. It would be a nightmare to find a child drowned in our pool. I don’t think I’d ever swim in it again!

motherjanegoose

July 15th, 2009
9:28 am

@ Denise…re: you’ve done what you should…

on the same day we agree that those of us who are working and paying more taxes than ever get to say ” we are doing what we can to provide for our own family and are terribly sorry that you are not married and have 3 children plus one in the oven. We do not want to be accountable and so since you are not employed and have no job skills, you will HAVE to take birth control and be tested for it before you receive any more gov’t aid. If you choose for us to support you, then you choose to have no more children.” Does anyone see this happening?

It is the same nonsense with everything,everywhere, those who are responsible are penalized for those who are not.

I KNOW it is not the children’s fault but if they are reared in that environment, they will have the same attitudes when they grow up…THE RICH FOLKS OWE US. ( fyi…I am not rich but do pay taxes and work so that my own family can be comfortable, as do others on this blog.)

karen

July 15th, 2009
11:05 am

Terrible that you lose a child because you have a 8ft snake in your house. What are you thinking…the child was only 2….i think they should be charged for the death of the child…how could they keep that kind of snake in a house with a young baby…..and the child never understood about snakes….how terrible for the baby and i blame the parents…you have to take things our of childrens way…or out of the house….to keep them self. I don’t think anyone should have that kind of snake in the house anyway. I hope that they did something to the snake…they would do it if it was a dog…the parents are to blame…i am sorry for the lose of their child..but very bad judgement on the parents…..God bless that poor child having to die lie that….

Linda

July 15th, 2009
7:18 pm

I think prison time is too much but they need to be held accountable in some way.Since there’s no penalty for being stupid, maybe start a campaign to make owning exotic pets a crime.

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LIsa

July 21st, 2009
10:53 am

well, amazingly crafted pet gates were rare. it is important to intelligent in buying. it is best that are pet are trained well even if we just have little time with them.

The Sarge

July 23rd, 2009
12:18 am

Other than the obvious stupidity displayed by people pretending to be responsible parents, let’s look at precedent:

If a bartender serves too much alcohol to a patron and said patron is involved in a fatal accident, the bartender, by law, is culpable.

By the same token, these “make-believe” parents made available, in proximity to a defenseless child, an animal of disastrously dangerous potential. This was tantamount to placing a stick of dynamite in a kid’s right hand, a match in the kid’s left hand, and saying “be careful”.

These parents should be held criminaly responsible to the fullest extent.

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Kaye

August 1st, 2009
7:25 pm

I was asked at the beginnig of this thread to tell where I had heard that the snake was not feed and that was what it was looking for:
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/orl-bk-killer-python-owner-speaks-073109,0,3498768.story
Snake experts such as Andrew Wyatt, president of the United States Association of Reptile Keepers, question Darnell’s story, particularly the part about the snake reaching sexual maturity.

A Burmese that old weighing 12.3 pounds had to be “emaciated,” he said.

“That animal was not sexually mature. That animal was undernourished,” Wyatt said

Thus proving the mother and the boyfriend were stupid, criminal and should be charged not only in the childs death but the abuse of the snake.

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Bobby Jackobob

February 22nd, 2010
2:31 pm

THEY LOST THEIR BABY THEY DONT NEED CRIMINAL CHARGES IT WAS AN ACCIDENT

terry

March 31st, 2010
11:20 pm

Does anybody know, if they had furry animals?

denise

June 16th, 2010
4:50 pm

I really feel like they are going through enough.Maybe the snake should of been outside.We can say maybe ourself all day. But what if it had gotten out an killed someone else child, than charges yes,but not with there chld.They got to live with that for the rest of their life,an to me that is a harder time to do.To the family may GOD be with you an your family.Im sorry for your lost.