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Pet Python Kills FL Girl, 2: Mom Guilty

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on July 20, 2011 6:50 AM

Two-year-old Shaianna Hare of Florida was killed by a pet python. Her death resulted in the trial of her mother, Jaren Hare, and her mother's boyfriend, Charles "Jason" Darnell. The killer python, an 8.5-foot Burmese python, had strangled the little girl to death.

The snake, named "Gypsy," was kept in a glass aquarium that was secured by a safety-pinned quilt that acted as a lid, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

A jury found Hare and Darnell guilty of manslaughter, third-degree murder and child neglect, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The couple now faces prison sentences of up to 45 years.

A snake breeder at the trial testified that the snake was underfed and malnourished. The killer python was 5 years old at the time, but only weighed 13.5 pounds when the average python should weigh 140 pounds.

And, according to the snake breeder, the aquarium was no place to put a large snake, reports WESH-TV.

Hare and Darnell's attorneys had argued that the snake was a family pet that had always been docile. The defense said that the parents had no idea that the snake would end up harming their little girl, reports WFTS-TV.

The couple now faces prison sentences of between 15-45 years. They had earlier rejected a deal that would have had them incarcerated for 10 years, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

In finding the couple guilty of child neglect, the jury must have found that they had found that they did not give reasonable supervision or care to Shaianna. Under the Florida statute, a person who neglects a child and in so doing causes "great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement to the child" commits a second-degree felony. And, a person commits third degree murder when they "without any design to effect death" kill someone while perpetrating certain felonies.

Child neglect is a felony, and Shaianna's death resulted from the commission of that felony. The third degree murder charge likely arose from this basis.

The couple, found guilty in the pet python death of their daughter, will be sentenced late August, reports the Orlando Sentinel. The killer python had been a family pet for five years, reports WFTS-TV.

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