August 24, 2011 / 10:17 PM / 6 years ago

Florida couple sentenced to prison in deadly python case

ORLANDO, Fla (Reuters) - A young Florida mother and her boyfriend were sentenced on Wednesday to 12 years each in prison on manslaughter charges stemming from the death of the woman's 2-year-old daughter, who was strangled by their pet python in her crib.

Jaren Hare, 21, and boyfriend Charles Darnell, 34, were convicted last month for the July 2009 death of Hare's daughter, Shaianna, in the central Florida town of Bushnell.

Assistant State Attorney Conrad Juergensmeyer said the couple also was ordered to serve five years of probation upon release from prison.

Darnell found the couple's 8-1/2-foot-long albino Burmese python named Gypsy wrapped around Shaianna's head and body after it escaped from an unsecured aquarium during the night, according to the Sumter County Sheriff's Office.

The medical examiner found bite marks on the child's head and arms.

Darnell told authorities he thought he had secured the snake by placing it in a laundry bag, which had a small hole in it, and then covering the aquarium with a quilt held on by safety pins.

Hare told deputies that the snake had escaped from the tank and laundry bag 10 times in the previous two months, and that she was planning to make a locking lid for the tank. The aquarium was kept in the living room where two other children sleeping on a convertible sofa were unharmed.

Reporting by Barbara Liston; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Greg McCune

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