SC mother sentenced to 35 years for killing 2 sons

Mar 30, 2012, 6:29 PM

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) – A 30-year-old South Carolina mother will spend the next 35 years in prison for suffocating her two sons, then putting them in her car and staging a crash into a river after a fight with her mother over her parenting skills.

Shaquan Duley said nothing during the less than 10-minute hearing Friday except a quiet “yes sir” as Circuit Court Judge Edgar Dickson asked her questions about the day in August 2010 she killed 2-year-old Devean and 18-month-old Ja’van by putting her hand over their mouths in a rundown Orangeburg motel room.

The single parent was living with her mother, had no job and was depressed and upset about multiple issues at the time of the slayings.

She pleaded guilty to murder earlier this month and faced 30 years to life in prison without parole. Prosecutors made no recommendation, but offered no mercy either. Duley will have to serve every day of her sentence.

“You have left no one involved in the case with a good choice here today,” Circuit Court Judge Edgar Dickson said. “Your family has the unenviable task of deciding between the grief of losing their grandchildren and supporting their child, the mother who killed them.”

The case brought back heartrending reminders of Susan Smith, who rolled her car into a lake in Union County with her 3-year-old and 14-month-old sons in the back seat in Union in 1994.

But the cases differed in big ways. Prosecutors said Smith’s sons were alive when her car went into the lake, and she killed her boys because a man with whom she had an affair broke off their relationship.

Prosecutors said Duley strapped her sons’ bodies into their car seats after killing them and drove to a river 10 miles away. She killed them because she was depressed over failing online classes and not having a job. She also was upset the father of the boys didn’t have anything to do with them and she had just had a fight where her mother said she was a bad parent, investigators said.

Duley first told police she fell asleep before running off a bridge over the North Edisto River. But there were no skid marks or damage to the bridge. Instead, investigators think she drove to a boat ramp and got out of her car before letting it roll into the river.

Duley’s attorney said she intended to stay in the car and kill herself. She also tried to commit suicide a couple of other times by taking an overdose of headache medicine and trying to cut her wrist with a box cutter after killing her sons, attorney Carl B. Grant said,

Grant said Duley cried with him after she was sentenced. Her family wouldn’t talk to reporters after the hearing, but her pastor said she has found the Lord in prison and is ministering to women who find themselves in stressful situations.

Duley wishes she had someone she could have turned to that night, said Jerome Anderson, pastor at New Mount Zion Church in Orangeburg

“She’s not a bad person. She didn’t deserve life. She did a bad thing,” Anderson said. “People who do bad things aren’t bad people.”

Solicitor David Pascoe said he thought long and hard about pursuing the death penalty against Duley. He decided that would be a waste of taxpayer money because the mother had no prior criminal record, and the people affected most by the deaths of the children would testify in her behalf if he asked jurors to send her to death row. Also, jurors tend to sympathize more with women. There are currently no women on South Carolina’s death row.

Pascoe said he was satisfied with the sentence. Duley’s lawyer briefly considered some type of insanity defense, but backed off after another psychologist found her mentally fit to stand trial.

“She definitely knows what she did that day. She knew what she did at the time,” Pascoe said. “She may have snapped that day. People snap all the time. But it doesn’t make a crime like that right.”

Duley’s chance to ask for mercy came on March 16 when she pleaded guilty. She cried as she apologized for what she did. She also said she was happy that God let her keep her memories of her sons.

“In spite of whatever I’ve gone through,” Duley said, “I still have hope and joy in my heart that one day I will see them again.”

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

FILE -  A Goodyear tire sits on display at a tire shop on Feb. 12, 2014, in South Euclid, Ohio. A f...
Associated Press

Arizona lawyer subpoenaed in criminal investigation of Goodyear tires

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles is gathering evidence in a criminal investigation of Goodyear recreational vehicle tires.
19 hours ago
Following days of rain, floodwaters cover streets in the Planada community of Merced County, Calif....
Associated Press

Atmospheric rivers in California boost water allocation for cities

Public water agencies in California will be getting more water from the state because of recent heavy rain.
19 hours ago
(Brian Munoz/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP, File)...
Associated Press

FDA declines to regulate CBD; calls on Congress for fix

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday there are too many unknowns about CBD products to regulate them as foods or supplements under the agency’s current structure and called on Congress to create new rules for the massive and growing market. The marijuana-derived products have become increasingly popular in lotions, tinctures and foods, while their […]
19 hours ago
FILE - An employee works in the battery assembly hall at the BMW Spartanburg plant in Greer, S.C., ...
Associated Press

US economy slowed but still grew at 2.9% rate last quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy expanded at a 2.9% annual pace from October through December, ending 2022 with momentum despite the pressure of high interest rates and widespread fears of a looming recession. Thursday’s estimate from the Commerce Department showed that the nation’s gross domestic product — the broadest gauge of economic output — […]
19 hours ago
(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)...
Associated Press

Pope Francis discusses his health, critics and future of papacy

In his first interview since the death of retired Pope Benedict XVI, Francis tells The Associated Press he plans to continue for as long as he can as bishop of Rome
2 days ago
Eric Sham visits a makeshift memorial on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 for those killed in a mass shoot...
Associated Press

US Secret Service releases report on mass attacks

A new report on mass attacks calls for communities to intervene early when they see warning signs of violence.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
SC mother sentenced to 35 years for killing 2 sons