The mother charged with suffocating her two children before dumping them in a river to make their deaths appear like an accident appeared somber today at her arraignment in a South Carolina courtroom on two counts of murder.
With her head down, 29-year-old Shaquan Duley, clad in an orange jumpsuit, was led slowly into the Orangeburg County court by uniformed officers with her hands cuffed in front of her. It appeared that Duley was holding tissues in between her cuffed hands.
Family and friends, many of whom held hands and cried, lined the small courtroom.
Duley said little during the arraignment, during which the judge read her her rights. Duley is represented by attorney Carl B. Grant.
Grant told the Associated Press he wants everyone to "keep an open mind" and to "understand that they don't know the whole story."
"She's tearful, as anybody would be under these circumstances," Grant said after the brief hearing. "She's been very sad, very remorseful about all of this stuff, all of the allegations."
Duley now faces two counts of murder for the deaths of 18-month-old Ja'van T. Duley and 2-year-old Devean C. Duley, Orangeburg County Sheriff Larry Williams said at a press conference.
"At the conclusion of our lengthy evening last night the statement was made by the mother that she had suffocated the children and that the children were dead when they were placed in the water," said Williams Tuesday.
Williams said that Duley confessed to investigators she suffocated the two children by holding her hand over their mouths at a local motel. She then strapped them into the car seats and drove around until she found a place to get rid of their bodies, he said.
In a 9-1-1 call released by authorities, the owner of a nearby home where Duley went after abandoning her car, alerted police that there were children trapped inside the sinking vehicle.
"Someone ran the car into the pond, and the kids in the pond," said the caller.
Listen to the 9-1-1 call here.
At about 7 a.m. Monday, the car -- with the deceased children still strapped into their car seats -- was lifted out of the North Edisto River.
"I cringe for the children," said Williams, who added that Duley has not shown any remorse for the murders.
Duley's actions may have been spurred by a recent dispute with her own mother, with whom Duley and her children lived.
"The night before the kids were placed into the river there was a dispute between Duley and her mother," said Williams. "I believe that [Duley] was fed up with her mother telling her she couldn't take care of the children or that she wasn't taking care of the children."
"I think she truly felt that if she didn't have these two toddlers, she could be free," said Williams. "The responsibility of being a mom is a bit much for her."
Williams added, "In her weakest moment -- her weakest moment resulted in the death of the children."
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Duley's sister, Adriane Duley, said she doesn't think Williams' portrayal of events has been unfair.
"I don't feel that he's dragging my sister through the mud," she said outside the home she shared with her mother, sister, niece and nephews. "I actually feel that he's speaking fairly compassionately on her part."