Florida Couple Sentenced to 12 Years in Python Strangling of Daughter

Girl, 2, was strangled in her crib when severely underweight pet python escaped.

ByABC News
August 24, 2011, 3:58 PM

Aug. 24, 2011 — -- Florida python owners Jaren Hare and her boyfriend Charles Darnell were each sentenced to 12 years in prison today because the snake escaped from its cage and strangled Hare's 2-year-old daughter.

Hare, 21, and Darnell, 34, were convicted last month of third degree murder, manslaughter and child neglect.

The little girl, Shaianna, was killed two years ago when the couple's pet Burmese python escaped from its enclosure and strangled the girl in her crib. The snake's tank was only equipped with a quilt for a lid.

A medical examiner testified during the trial that the albino snake named Gypsy was underweight and trying to eat the girl. The snake hadn't been fed for a month when the girl died and was severely underweight at only 13 pounds, the Orlando Sentinel reported. The snake should have weighed nearly 150 pounds, the Sentinel reported.

Couple Gets 12 Years After Their Python Killed Girl

Jurors rejected the defense's argument that this was simply a terrible accident. The jury foreperson did not want to be identified but offered insight into how the verdict was reached.

"Even under the most remote circumstances, it was possible that the child could be injured. And it was their duty to make sure that there was no possibility that a 2-year-old would be bitten or in any way harmed… We feel extremely upset about having to make this decision, but we believe it was the correct one," the foreperson told ABC Affiliate WFTV.

After the verdict was read out, Darnell tried to comfort his sobbing girlfriend.

During the trial, Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino showed the jury two photos of Shaianna, one where she was a smiling, happy child and another showing her lifeless body with bite marks on her face. He pointed at the couple and argued to the jury that "the snake is not at fault in this case. It's a wild animal. The responsibility for the death of that child is those defendants right there."