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Shaquan DULEY

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - She killed them because she was depressed over failing online classes and not having a job
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: August 16, 2010
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: 1981
Victim profile: Her sons, 2-year-old Devean C. Duley and 18-month-old Ja'van T. Duley
Method of murder: Suffocation
Location: Orangeburg County, South Carolina, USA
Status: Sentenced to 35 years in prison on March 30, 2012

 
 
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Mentally-ill mother sentenced to 35 years in prison for suffocating her two young sons, then putting them in a car and staging crash into a river

Shaquan Duley, 30, pleaded guilty to suffocating her two sons, aged two and 18 months and dumping them in a river

DailyMail.co.uk

March 31, 2012

An unemployed and mentally ill South Carolina mother has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for killing her two young sons, then putting them in her car and staging a crash into a river.

Shaquan Duley, 30, said nothing during the hearing except a very quiet 'yes sir' as Circuit Court Judge Edgar Dickson asked her questions.

Dickson said he appreciated Duley taking responsibility but she needed to be punished for what she did.

'The sentence I hand down today does not reflect in any way this court minimizing the horror of what you did to your children, your family and this community,' Dickson said.

Duley faced 30 years to life in prison after pleading guilty earlier this month to two counts of murder in the deaths of her sons, 2-year-old Devean and 18-month-old Ja'van in August 2010.

The mother made no deal with prosecutors.

After pleading guilty, Duley tearfully 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.'

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 suffocated her sons with her hands in a motel room before strapping them into their car seats and driving to the 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 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.

Police at the time said she confessed after initially lying about the deaths and trying to make them look accidental.

'She was a mother that was unemployed. She had no means of taking care of her children,' then-Sheriff Larry Williams said in 2010.

A state-appointed forensic psychiatrist found last summer that Duley suffered from mental illness but that she knew right from wrong and knew what she was doing when she killed her children, Pascoe said.

The father of Duley's children was never located, the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office said.


South Carolina mother Shaquan Duley pleads guilty to murder in sons' death

CBSNews.com

March 16, 2012

(CBS/AP) ORANGEBURG, S.C. - A South Carolina mother pleaded guilty Friday to killing her two young sons by suffocating them, then putting their bodies into a car and rolling it into a river.

Shaquan Duley, 30, pleaded guilty without making a deal with prosecutors. She faces between 30 years and life in prison when she is sentenced later this month.

Divers pulled the bodies of 2-year-old Devean and 18-month-old Ja'van from the North Edisto River on August 16, 2010. Duley initially told police she fell asleep at the wheel before the car went into the river about 40 miles south of Columbia, but authorities questioned her story after finding no skid marks or signs of a crash.

Later, police said Duley told them that, after being badgered by her sister and mother about her failings as a parent, Duley fled with her sons to a motel, where she held her hands over the boys' mouths.

Duley's relatives and attorney have said the young mother was depressed, out of a job and failing online classes. A month after her arrest, Duley's family was on television, telling Oprah Winfrey the woman was in a manic state and irate after the family fight.

Her attorney, Carl B. Grant, told Winfrey that Duley was distraught, in part owing to a lack of contact with her children's father. She tried to kill herself the night of her sons' deaths by consuming a dozen packages of a common headache remedy and trying to slit her wrists with a box cutter, Grant said.

When those attempts failed, Duley intended to die inside her car in the river before changing her mind and climbing out, Grant has said.

Duley has been held without bond since her August 2010 arrest.


Shaquan Duley admits murdering her sons

By Richard Walker - Thetandd.com

March 17, 2012

Shaquan Renee Duley will go to prison. It’s just a matter now of how long.

Dressed in a white blouse and matching pants, Duley spoke for about three minutes, asking for forgiveness during her plea hearing Friday.

“This is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through in my life,” Duley said. “I’d like to ask forgiveness from my family. I’d also like to apologize to the community.”

Duley entered guilty pleas to two counts of murder. She told the court she loved her children and that her “heart hurts” for her two sons, 18-month-old Ja’van and 2-year-old Devean.

Circuit Court Judge Ed Dickson accepted Duley’s guilty pleas.

However, Dickson deferred making a decision on sentencing until the week of March 26.

Duley faces between 30 years and life in prison on each count for killing her two toddler sons in August 2010.

Her guilty pleas can’t be withdrawn at this point. But they can be appealed within 10 days.

Defense attorney Carl B. Grant asked the court to be lenient in sentencing Duley, reminding the court of Duley’s remaining child, a 7-year-old daughter.

“Some cases obviously tug your heart more so than others,“ Grant said. “This is one of those.”

Duley lost custody of her remaining child in a December 2010 Family Court hearing.

First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe described the case as extraordinarily sad because the victims were so young and also part of the defendant’s family.

“This case has been tough on a lot of people, Your Honor,” the prosecutor said. “This is also an uncommon case.”

But Pascoe said with a confession and considerable evidence against Duley, he was ready to go to trial. Otherwise he would only accept a straight plea to murder.

No insanity plea, no reduced charge such as manslaughter. Murder only, Pascoe said.

The prosecutor gave credit for the evidence that secured that decision to the investigators of the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety, the South Carolina Highway Patrol and the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office.

Plans were tentatively being made for a trial in the fall before an agreement was worked out this week. As late as Thursday, offers were made by the defense to reduce the sentence.

“I just couldn’t do that in good conscience,” Pascoe said.

According to affidavits, Duley argued with family members about how she cared for her children on the afternoon of Aug. 16, 2010.

Pascoe said she then grabbed up her two small sons and left home to check into Trumps Inn on Five Chop Road east of Orangeburg. At some point after midnight, Duley smothered the boys.

An Orangeburg County coroner’s inquest determined Duley used her hands to smother the boys by covering their nose and mouth.

She then strapped the boys’ lifeless bodies in her Dodge Intrepid and drove around for several hours before sending the car into the Edisto River at Baughman’s Landing on Shillings Bridge Road.

Four days later, more than 700 mourners filed past two tiny gold-trimmed white caskets.

During Friday’s hearing, Helen Duley described her daughter as a caring, com-passionate child who displayed affection for children, including her own.

“She loved her children, I know she did,” Helen Duley said. “She’s been a gentle child all her life.”

Adrian Duley told the court the murder of her nephews was not typical behavior for her sister.

“I miss her. I miss my two nephews as well,” she said. “I just want you to know this is a good person.”

When she was finished addressing the court, Adrian Duley hugged her sister and wiped away her tears.

Grant said Duley had been suffering from emotional issues that day. Despite that, Grant formally dropped his earlier notice to seek a defense of “mentally insane” and asked the court to consider sentencing Duley to the minimum of 30 years in prison.

“We feel, your honor, a 30-year sentence would serve the intent of justice,” he said.

After the 30-minute hearing, Grant said regardless of the court’s decision, his client will be in “confinement for a very, very long time.”

Pascoe said a mental evaluation determined Duley to be marginally mentally ill. But her level of perception did not meet the elements required to determine she was mentally incompetent.

The prosecutor would not speculate on the court’s potential sentence, saying he would leave that decision to the judge.

“Whatever he does sentence her to, I’ll respect that decision,” he said. “The main thing is getting that conviction.”

Dickson said several weeks worth of trials prior to Friday’s hearings have not given him time to review the case closely. The judge said he would expedite his decision to give closure to the family.


Judge denies bond for Duley

By Richard Walker - Thetandd.com

September 13, 2010

Shaquan Duley was denied bond Monday after her attorney argued his client faced severe depression and "suicidal tendencies" the day her two toddler sons were killed.

Citing state law regarding bond denial in a capital case, 1st Circuit Court Judge Ed Dickson granted the state motion to deny bond for the 29-year-old mother, accused of killing her toddler sons Aug. 16.

"Everyone in this courtroom knows this is a very sad and tragic event," Dickson said. "After giving due weight to the information provided and to the nature and circumstances of this event, I am denying bond."

Dickson did order that if a trial date has not been set in six months, Duley can make another motion for bond, if she has new information for the court.

Duley is accused of smothering her two sons, 18-month-old Ja'van and Devean, who would have turned 3 in October, before strapping them into her car and rolling it into the Edisto River.

Four days after their deaths, the two small boys were laid to rest in matching white caskets.

Duley did not attend the double funeral services. It has not been made public if she made a request to attend.

Dressed in all black, Duley sat in court Monday with her head down during much of the hour-long hearing. At times, she covered her eyes with her hands while the argument over her release went on.

She did not speak during the hearing.

First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe said Duley stood in a woods line a quarter mile away the morning her children were discovered in her car, which was found submerged in the North Edisto River at Shilling's Bridge.

Duley told passersby that she had been involved in an accident resulting in her car plunging into the river, Pascoe said.

"The Highway Patrol saw no evidence of an accident," he said. "They reminded her of her rights and the defendant said she was going to her father's house ... and must've fallen asleep."

Citing Duley's statement to authorities, Pascoe said investigators pointedly asked Duley about her 5-year-old daughter and why she didn't kill her.

"She wasn't with me," Pascoe said was Duley's answer to law enforcement.

"If she had of been with you, would you have killed her?" Pascoe said, reciting an investigator's question.

"I don't know."

The two boys died of asphyxiation, suffering abrasions to their necks. Devean had bruising to his is lip while Ja'Van had bruises on his chin, Pascoe said.

The solicitor said he wanted put on the court record that he has not ruled out seeking the death penalty for Duley.

Duley is a danger not only to herself but the community as well, Pascoe said, and requested bond be denied.

Defense attorney Carl B. Grant, meantime, hinted at a defense hinged on insanity of his client.

He said the day the children died, Duley was a woman facing severe depression caused by three years of unemployment, raising three children with no physical or financial support from any fathers, and a disapproving mother.

"How do we go from Shaquan Duley, a loving and caring mother, to a woman charged with killing her children?" Grant said.

The defense attorney said his client had been prescribed an anti-depressant. She tried to overdose on sleeping medications and take her own life the day her toddler sons died.

"Which in her severely depressed and drugged state, she strapped in her children, lifeless is the disposition by the solicitor at that point, and drove her car into the Edisto River," Grant said. "This is a person who made three attempts at committing suicide within hours of climbing out of the Edisto River on Aug. 16, 2010."

Grant hinted to the court that the case could be considered for dismissal entirely since his client did not know right from wrong at the time of the toddlers' deaths.

Citing what he says is an "absolutely strikingly" similar case, Grant said a psychiatrist found an Ohio woman guilty but insane of the 2007 drowning of her two small daughters.

In that case, a defense psychologist and a state psychiatrist testified that Amber Hill's depression escalated to a point where she became disconnected from reality.

Hill's attorneys argued the woman's mental illness was so profound when she drowned her two daughters in a bathtub three years ago, that she did not understand right from wrong.

Grant presented his own forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Thomas Martin, who told the court he had examined both mental and medical records for Duley and found her to be little risk to society.

"I find therefore that she is a low risk to hurt others, at this time," Martin said.

Grant asked the court for a bond between $25,000 and $50,000 surety, saying his client could live with her father and away from her small daughter.

When handed a copy of Hill's case, Pascoe scoffed.

The prosecutor countered that Martin's testimony represented "extraordinary statements" concerning Duley's mental competency.

"Lying to law enforcement shows Duley knew right from wrong," Pascoe said. "It is an absurd argument to make. There is no excuse for the murder of those two children."

Pascoe told the court an argument just prior to Duley leaving her mother's residence escalated to such a level that law enforcement was called. Shaquan Duley was gone before deputies arrived, Pascoe said.

About 25 of Duley's friends and family attended the hearing, but none offered any statements to the dozen media outlets present.

During the hearing, Duley's mother and father spoke on her behalf, Helen Duley describing her daughter as "loving and kind-hearted person" and a "good mother."

"This is truly a sad day in our lives and in the community and in the nation as a whole," Helen Duley said.


Sheriff: Mom killed kids, dumped car in river

By Meg Kinnard - Katu.com

August 18, 2010

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) - Broke, jobless and berated by her mother for her failings, Shaquan Duley killed her young sons, then strapped their lifeless bodies into their car seats before rolling the vehicle into a South Carolina river in a desperate cover-up attempt, authorities said.

On Wednesday, the 29-year-old mother was expected to appear before an Orangeburg County judge for an arraignment hearing on two murder charges.

Duley's attorney, Carl B. Grant, said Wednesday morning he hasn't had the opportunity to review any of the evidence against her.

"We want everybody to keep an open mind and to understand that they don't know the whole story," said Grant, who would not say what he discussed in his first talk with his client.

Investigators were not convinced when Duley said her sons, ages 2 years and 18 months, drowned after her car plunged into a river. She ultimately confessed to killing the toddlers, they say - not by dumping them in the water but by suffocating them earlier with her own hands.

"She truly felt, 'If I don't have these toddlers, I can be free,"' Orangeburg County Sheriff Larry Williams said at a news conference Tuesday. "I think she was fed up with her mother telling her she couldn't take care of the children, or she wasn't taking care of the children and just wanted to be free."

Coroner Samuetta Marshall told several media outlets Tuesday the older boy had defensive wounds that suggested he had been in a struggle.

Monday's tragic scene of a car found submerged with children's bodies inside was eerily reminiscent of the 1994 case of another South Carolina mother, Susan Smith, who is serving life in prison for killing her young sons by rolling her car into a lake in the northwest part of the state.

Duley lived with her sons, a 5-year-old daughter and her mother in a rented home along a street filled with boarded-up, abandoned houses in Orangeburg, about 35 miles south of Columbia, South Carolina's capital. Out of work and estranged from the children's father, Duley relied on her mother to support her and her children, Williams said.

The sheriff said Duley told investigators her mother constantly harangued her about her failures as a mother and inability to provide for her family financially.

Leaving her daughter at the house after a night of arguing with her mother Sunday, Duley strapped 2-year-old Devean C. Duley and 18-month-old Ja'van T. Duley into their car seats and drove the boys to an Orangeburg motel several miles from where she lived.

Late that night, in a corner room tucked at the back of the rundown, one-story motel complex, Duley suffocated the boys with her hands, Williams said. On Tuesday, red evidence tape still sealed the door to that room.

Distraught and not knowing what to do, Duley strapped the boys into their car seats and drove to a boat ramp some 10 miles away, investigators said. They said Duley rolled her car into the water, watching as it sank into the slow-moving current, then took off on foot.

Without a cell phone, Duley walked some distance down a country road, flagging down a passing motorist to call the Highway Patrol at around 6:15 a.m. Monday.

The children were still strapped in their child seats when divers found them and recovered their bodies about 45 minutes after being called to the scene.

Duley was initially charged only with leaving the scene of an accident, but Williams said deputies knew there was more to the story than she was telling. There were no skid marks on the road leading to the water, and no obvious signs of a crash.

"We felt that the story she was telling us wasn't factual," Williams said.

Williams said Duley eventually admitted to a female deputy after hours of questioning that she killed the boys, citing the pressures both of parenthood and those she felt from her own mother. He said Duley expressed little remorse about the deaths.

"I think that the opportunity presented itself and she reacted to whatever condition presented itself for her to get rid of the children," Williams said.

Duley's mother declined to speak with reporters camped outside her home Tuesday. A woman who would not identify herself came outside and asked reporters to leave, saying, "We are grieving right now. We need our privacy."

Funeral services for both boys have been scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at St. Paul Baptist Church in Orangeburg, officials with Simmons Funeral Home, which is handling arrangements, said Wednesday.

The state agency responsible for child welfare in South Carolina said it has had no involvement with Duley. Williams said the 5-year-old girl is now staying with Duley's mother.

The boys' deaths stunned another young single mother who lived near the struggling family.

"I can never imagine it getting that bad to where you just feel that that's the end of it," said Shannon Stamos, 22, who has two children about the same ages as Duley's sons. "There are so many other families that are willing to take on kids nowadays ... for somebody that feels they need freedom, or whatever the case may be."

In the 1994 case, Smith left her 3-year-old and 14-month-old sons strapped in their car seats as she rolled her car into a lake in Union County. Smith, who is white, initially claimed a black man had carjacked her and drove off with the children.


Shaquan Duley Charged With Drowning Sons In SC River

NewsOne.com

August 17, 2010

Shaquan Duley charged with murder.

Two young children were pulled dead from their child seats in a submerged car and South Carolina authorities expressed doubts about the mother’s account that it was an accident.

Two-year-old Devean C. Duley and 18-month-old Ja’van T. Duley were dead in their child seats by the time divers got to the car Monday near a rural boat landing, Orangeburg County Sheriff Larry Williams said. County Coroner Samuetta Marshall would not speculate on a cause of death until autopsies were completed Tuesday, and police were trying to determine whether their deaths were accidental.

The boys’ mother, 29-year-old Shaquan Duley, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and it was unclear if she had a lawyer.

But Williams said that early in the investigation, state patrol officers felt the facts didn’t support that there was accident.

“We are looking into all possibilities as to what happened,” the sheriff said.

Highway Patrol was notified around 6:15 a.m. that a woman needed help getting her children out of a car. Shaquan Duley, who did not have a cell phone, had walked some distance down the country road by the boat landing and flagged down a passing motorist to call the Highway Patrol.

The sheriff said investigators were considering how a traffic accident could have happened at the boat ramp, about 20 yards upstream from a main road that crosses the North Edisto River in Orangeburg, some 35 miles south of Columbia, the state capital.

“She showed some emotion, but I can’t say she was overly distraught,” Williams said of Shaquan Duley. “Through her statements, there are some things we think are not believable.”

Williams planned a news conference for 10 a.m. Tuesday to discuss more details of the case. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Keisa Peterson said early Tuesday she was unaware of additional charges.

A woman who watched divers pull the toddlers’ limp bodies out of the car near her home said she couldn’t understand why the boys’ mother didn’t bang on her door for help. Ramona Milhouse, whose side porch door is steps from the river, said at first Monday she thought the boys were unconscious, until she realized their bodies were being taken to the ambulance with no attempt to revive them.

“It sounds fishy to me,” the 81-year-old Milhouse said. “If that was an accident, that woman would’ve been over here screamin’ and hollerin’ and really raising the devil."

The story is reminiscent of an infamous South Carolina case in 1994. Susan Smith left her 3-year-old and 14-month-old sons strapped in their car seats as she rolled her car into a lake in Union County in the northwest part of the state. She was convicted in their deaths and is serving a life prison term.

Milhouse said when she and her husband woke up and looked outside, rescue workers were already at the car, and she could see the head of one boy above the water. The car had to come from the boat landing, on the other side of a concrete bridge adjoining her property, and down the slow-moving river, said Milhouse, who’s lived full-time at the riverside home for about 35 years.

“It’s real low,” she said, so it could have taken awhile.

The car windows were up, and she heard rescuers say the ignition was on. She watched as the car was pulled down the middle of the river and hauled onto the bridge with a crane.

Williams said authorities were attempting to contact the children’s father, who did not live with the family.

Besides the Milhouses, a mobile home and a mechanic’s shop are also nearby.

Local residents said they, too, were suspicious.

Shakeyia Baxter said the main road was heavily traveled in the mornings and would have been especially busy on Monday — the first day of school. Baxter stopped by the boat ramp, which is littered with empty beer cases and discarded soda bottles, on her way home from work to tuck silk flowers into a sign that warns of high levels of mercury in the fish. Lily pads dotted the dingy water by the ramp, and mosquitoes swarmed.

“My heart goes out to them,” said Baxter, a 30-year-old mother of two. “I would have been doing everything I could to get those kids out of that car seat."


Timeline of the Duley case

By Lee Hendren - Thetandd.com

March 15, 2012

Aug. 16, 2010 – The Highway Patrol is alerted to a car crash that resulted in a vehicle plunging into the Edisto River at Shillings Bridge, five miles west of Orangeburg. Later that day, authorities say the act may have been intentional.

Aug. 17 – Shaquan Duley, then 29, is charged with smothering her two children and placing their lifeless bodies into her car before pushing it into the river. Flowers and stuffed animals begin showing up at the bridge where the car went into the river.

Aug. 18 — In a media frenzy, Duley makes her first appearance in court before Orangeburg County Magistrate Derrick Dash. Because she faces murder charges, the case is forwarded to circuit court for any bond consideration.

Aug. 19 — Three days after the tragedy unfolded, authorities reflect on what happened. Two Orangeburg Department of Public safety officers who recovered the bodies of the two toddlers recall a baby shoe floating up from the vehicle during the rescue efforts.

Aug. 20 — More than 700 mourners attend the joint funeral of 18-month-old Ja’van T. Duley and 2-year-old Devean C. Duley. Four days after the world came to Orangeburg to hear their story, they shed tears over the two small toddlers.

Aug. 26 — A bond hearing scheduled for Duley in circuit court is canceled.

Sept. 13 — Duley is denied bond after her attorney argued his client faced severe depression and “suicidal tendencies” the day her two toddler sons were killed. Grant sends notice to the 1st Circuit Solicitor’s Office that he intends to utilize an insanity defense.

Sept. 16 — Duley’s family appears on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Helen Duley, Shaquan’s mother, said she was hysterical when the coroner came to say two of her grandchildren were gone.

Sept. 20 — Solicitor David Pascoe places a motion before a circuit court judge for a neutral, court-appointed psychiatrist to examine the accused child killer.

Sept. 21 — Four and a half weeks after the toddlers are found dead, Orangeburg County Sheriff Larry Williams, who led the investigation into the toddler’s deaths, dies from heart complications. He was 53.

February 16, 2011 — First Circuit Court Judge Ed Dickson orders that Duley be seen by a court-appointed psychiatrist, granting the prosecution’s September motion. The results have not been made public.

March 14 — Word leaks that Duley is scheduled to enter a plea on Friday, March 16 concerning the deaths of her two sons.

 

 
 
 
 
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