Smyrna mother pleads guilty after kids' 2012 deaths - WKRN News 2

Smyrna mother pleads guilty after kids' 2012 deaths

Posted: Updated: Jun 18, 2014 05:37 PM
Samantha Harper entered a plea deal Wednesday and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Samantha Harper entered a plea deal Wednesday and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.
Daniel Marise, 3, and Savannah Marise, 2, died in a hot car in the driveway of their Smyrna home. Daniel Marise, 3, and Savannah Marise, 2, died in a hot car in the driveway of their Smyrna home.
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - A Smyrna woman whose two young children died after she left them in a hot car two years ago pleaded guilty Wednesday to two lesser counts of attempted aggravated child neglect.

Samantha Harper was sentenced to 16 years and must serve eight as part of the plea deal.

"Legally, it was aggravated child neglect. If we had gone to trial we would have the possibility of 15 years to 25 years at 100%," said Assistant District Attorney Laural Hemenway.

She continued, "That's what the offer of 16 years was based off of. Eight years to be served, and the second eight, she'll have one chance, if she blows that chance she'll serve that too."

Under the agreement, Harper is forbidden to be around children. She cannot attend any high school or elementary school ball games or events. She cannot have a relationship with anyone who has children and must undergo drug tests at least once each month.

 SLIDESHOW: Photos of the case

She, however, could be eligible parole after serving just 30% of her sentence. With credit for time served, Harper could be eligible for parole in less than three years.

Harper was charged with murder after the two children, 2-year-old Savannah Marise and 3-year-old Daniel Marise, died in August of 2012. Police said Harper strapped the children in car seats then went back inside her home and fell asleep.

Harper said she was asleep and the children walked out of the house on their own and into the car.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that the autopsy did not prove the children were strapped in car seats.

Hemenway told the judge the father of the children said the little boy was able to open the car doors from the outside, but could not open one from the inside of a car.

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