Shanesha Taylor Fails to Fund Kids' Trusts; Prosecution to Move Forward
Shanesha Taylor, the Scottsdale mom who left her kids in a hot car in March while on a job interview, has blown today's deadline to fund trust accounts for her kids.
In July, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery signed off on the deal to keep Taylor out of jail as long as she used $60,000 of more than $114,000 in Internet donations to set up the trust funds.
Despite Taylor's embarrassing broken promise today, though, Montgomery does not appear to be enthusiastic about prosecuting the woman whose case has become a cause celebre.
UPDATE:Late this afternoon, Montgomery's office sent word to New Times that the prosecution will now be moving ahead. (See that and the latest news on the case below.)
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After news coverage of her March arrest, and with the help of her tearful mugshot, Taylor raised $114,825 (as of today) in an online fundraiser launched by a 20-something New Jersey woman.
Taylor's kids weren't hurt in the incident, and many single parents across the country were touched by her story. A sympathetic New York Times writer cast Taylor's decision to leave two of her kids in the car as the "desperate choice" of a single mom trying to raise three kids in a society without enough welfare programs. But the facts behind the story made it clear that Taylor has made much of her own bad luck.
Taylor got her kids back from the state, bought new furniture and allowed the kids' baby-daddy to move in, a guy who Taylor told the New York Times had not contributed regularly over the years to the financial needs of the children.
With the case receiving national attention, Montgomery allowed Taylor to defer felony prosecution in return for taking a parenting class and establishing trust accounts for her children with a chunk of the donated money.
As our article on Wednesday explained, Taylor was supposed to put $10,000 for each child in an education trust. Prosecutors later negotiated to have Taylor put another $30,000 in a separate trust fund to help with childcare expenses.
But on October 13, state prosecutors filed a motion in county Superior Court expressing concern that Taylor no longer had $60,000 of the donated money to fund the trusts.
At a hearing this morning, Superior Court Judge Joseph Welty declared that Taylor had not funded the trusts. However, the state did not withdraw the plea deal at that time, indicating a willingness to negotiate with Taylor over new terms.
Welty ordered Taylor and lawyers on both sides to return to court at 1:30 p.m.
Assuming Taylor will be allowed to keep her deferred-prosecution deal even if she puts less than $60,000 in the funds, that still leaves the question of what she did with the contributions. While Taylor hasn't landed a job since her arrest and has been living off the donated money, if she indeed no longer has at least $60,000, that means she may have spent more than $54,000 in a little over six months. Maybe she used the money to pay off a reported $30,000 in outstanding student loans.
We left a message this morning for Taylor's (non-relative) attorney, Benjamin Taylor, but haven't heard back. Montgomery's office declined comment. We'll update this post after the 1:30 p.m. hearing.
UPDATE: 4:45 p.m. -- Jerry Cobb, Montgomery's spokesman, sent us this statement: "Due to the defendant's failure to comply with the terms of the deferred prosecution agreement, the State has moved to reinstate prosecution."
Also, at the 1:30 p.m. court hearing, Taylor reportedly asked to put just $35,000 into the trust accounts. It's still unclear how much donation money she has left.
UPDATE: On Tuesday, Judge Welty ordered the deferred prosecution agreement vacated and set a trial date of December 10 on two counts of felony child abuse. Welty also set a status conference for November 3. Click here to read Welty's order.
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