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Shanesha Taylor trial in Phoenix won’t begin until after new year

PHOENIX — A judge has rescheduled the trial of a Phoenix woman who lost custody of her children after leaving them alone in a hot car during the spring.
Shanesha Taylor had been scheduled to appear in Maricopa County Superior Court on Dec. 10.

A new date of Feb. 24 was set Wednesday for the woman who became a temporary symbol of second chances and forgiveness until she frittered away several thousands of dollars in donations.

Taylor faced child-abuse charges for leaving her small children in a car while she went to interview for a job in Scottsdale in March.

When her story, along with a police mug shot of her tear-stained faced, went public. That prompted a flood of donations — $114,000 — from strangers.

Since then, court documents revealed how she had been spending the money, most of which was supposed to have been set aside as a trust fund for the children.

Some of the money has been spent on clothing, dining and cable TV.

Taylor missed two deadlines to put the money in a trust, a stipulation which would have led to the charges against her being dropped.

Taylor originally agreed to put $60,000 of the donated money into that trust. After today’s decision by the judge, she told reporters that she had problems with the trust agreement right from the start.

“I expressed discontent with the terms of the trust,” Taylor said. “The trust was written by an attorney who didn’t quite write it the way that would be beneficial for the family. I expressed those concerns months ago.”

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said today that he never heard her complain.

“The amounts were agreed to,” he explained. “There was no conversation at that point in time about any difficulty in setting aside the monies, as well as a recommendation to engage in a trust attorney to help draft it, as well as a financial planner.”

Montgomery said that the trust fund is now off of the table as part of any future agreement. But Taylor has a new defense attorney, and Montgomery said there is still a chance that the case will be settled out of court.

“There might be additional discussions going forward seeking a resolution to the case which would be completely separate from the deferred prosecution agreement that was previously offered,” he said.

Even though she missed the deadlines for setting up a trust fund that were part of the agreement, Taylor said today that she has gone ahead and set up a trust fund for her kids.

“I’ve been asked not to reveal the amount in the trust, but the trust is set up, it is funded, and it is set in the event that it comes to that resolution,” said Taylor. “My children are my best interest. I’m here to make sure that their needs are provided for.”

As for how she’s been spending the donated money, Taylor admitted that she has spent part of it on birthday parties for her children and Thanksgiving dinner for her family. She said that she routinely uses “two for one coupons” to take her children to eat at such places as Chuck E. Cheese’s and McDonald’s.

She denied reports that some of the money has been spent to finance her boyfriend’s rap album.

Taylor also admitted that she has rejected at least three job offers since her ordeal began. “The first two job offers were for waitressing-type positions,” said Taylor. “The problem is that they were for nights and weekends.”

She says she refused those jobs because CPS was involved in her case at the time, and that she feared it would not approve of her leaving her children to work during those hours.

Taylor did not say what the third job offer was. She said that reports that she has been offered jobs at hotels in downtown Phoenix are incorrect.