Smyrna mother pleads guilty in toddlers' heat-related deaths

SMYRNA, Tenn. (WTVF) – A Smyrna woman has accepted a plea deal in connection with the 2012 heat-related deaths of her two young children.

Samantha Harper pleaded guilty Wednesday to two felony counts of attempted aggravated child neglect and will serve eight years for each count, to be served concurrently. As part of the deal, she is only required to serve 30 percent of her sentence in prison, meaning she would be eligible for parole in a little more than two years with time served.
If she violates strict conditions after her release, including monthly drug testing and zero contact with children, she must serve her entire sentence consecutively.

In court Harper stated she fell asleep, and after waking up found her two children, 3-year-old Daniel Marise and 2-year-old Savannah Marise, face down on the floor board of the car. The car was in the driveway of the home on Old Nashville Highway on August 2, 2012. She believed the children found their way out of the house and into the car, which was apparently not driveable.

When she found the children, she called 911. Officials believed the children were in the car for about an hour.

Harper had been originally charged with two counts of felony murder and aggravated child neglect.

Police said the children's father was not home at the time of the incident.

Police also searched Harper's house during their investigation and found what they described as "deplorable" conditions. The house was condemned.

Smyrna police said Harper had no criminal history. However, on September 29, 2011, La Vergne Police filed a child neglect report against Harper, which resulted in a referral to the Department of Children's services.

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