Smyrna mother makes 1st court appearance after kids deaths - WKRN News 2

Smyrna mother makes 1st court appearance after kids deaths

Posted: Updated: Aug 9, 2012 4:23 PM CDT
Samantha Harper, 25, is charged with two counts of especially aggravated child abuse. Samantha Harper, 25, is charged with two counts of especially aggravated child abuse.
3-year-old Daniel 3-year-old Daniel
2-year-old Savanna 2-year-old Savanna
SMYRNA, Tenn. -

The Smyrna woman whose two young children were found dead outside the family's home one week ago appeared before a judge in Rutherford County Thursday afternoon.

Samantha Harper was arraigned on two counts of especially aggravated child abuse.

The judge set a preliminary hearing, where investigators will present testimony and evidence in their case against Harper, for August 30 at 2:30 p.m.

Smyrna police officers responded to Harper's home on Old Nashville Highway last Thursday, August 2 and found Harper's two children, three-year-old Daniel Marise and two-year-old Savanna Marise, lying in the driveway near a parked car.

Authorities believe the children were trapped inside the car and possibly suffered a heat stroke before being removed.

Harper told police she put the children in her car and went back into her home and fell asleep.

She called 911 from a neighbor's home after discovering the kids.

Police also found Harper's home in deplorable conditions.  The home was condemned just hours later.

Following Thursday's arraignment, Harper's attorney Gerald Melton, told Nashville's News 2 his client is very upset.

"It means she's distraught," he said of Harper's green and white striped jail uniform.  "Typically, cases like this they have jail watching them under close supervision to make sure they don't harm themselves."

Melton embraced Harper's family after the proceedings.

Her family did not want to talk on camera, but expressed concern about the amount of Harper's bail, and the fact that she has been in jail since last week without any contact with the outside world.

"She's incredibly upset, the family is supportive," Melton continued.  "We believe this was just at tragic accident and we'll be proceeding forward on that basis."

The medical examiner has not released the exact cause of the children's deaths.

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