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August 25, 2011

"Parents Blame Python Sentencing on Casey Anthony"

The title of this post comes from the headline of this local piece discussing a unique homicide case out of central Florida. Here is the explanation:

A man and woman in Central Florida are going to jail for manslaughter after their pet snake killed a toddler. And the man's attorney says it's all because of Florida mom Casey Anthony's acquittal....

Charles Darnell and Jaren Hare were both sentenced to 12 years in prison for manslaughter after 2-year-old Shaianna Hare was strangled to death by their pet python. Their defense attorney said the jury was influenced by what happened during the Anthony trial.  "The jury wanted to make an example after Casey Anthony," says Rhiannon Arnold, Charles Darnell's defense attorney.

This Orlando Sentinel piece, which is headlined "Reptile-loving couple sentenced to 12 years in prison in killer python case," provides more background on the case and the sentencing outcome:

Darnell, 34, and his live-in girlfriend, Jaren Hare, 21, faced a possible 45 years in prison for manslaughter and child neglect. They turned down a pretrial plea offer that would have capped their prison time at 10 years. They also will have to serve five years probation upon their release from prison.

Arnold's claim was brushed away by assistant state attorney Pete Magrino, who argued that the couple had "abdicated" their responsibility not only to 2-year-old Shaianna Hare but also to Gypsy, the 8-foot-6-inch Burmese python. "Unfortunately some criminal defense practitioners will say anything to justify in their own mind their position," Magrino said. "The jurors took an oath, and I firmly believe the jurors followed their oath with regard to this case and their findings of fact. The evidence presented to them in this case was overwhelming."

The couple's case was decided a week after jurors in Orange County found Anthony not guilty of murder in the death of her toddler daughter, Caylee. Arnold and fellow defense lawyer Ismael Solis Jr. called the death of Shaianna Hare a terrible "accident," pointing out the pet python had never attacked anyone in the home.

The toddler was bitten and strangled in her crib by the exotic constrictor snake which slithered from a glass tank in the couple's mobile home in Oxford, a rural community located about 60 miles northwest of Orlando. A medical examiner testified that the snake was trying to eat the child.

The snake, which, at 13 1/2 pounds, was grossly underweight, repeatedly escaped the 200-gallon tank, which had a quilt as a lid, before the fatal attack on July 1, 2009.  A snake expert testified during the couple's trial that an albino Burmese python of Gypsy's age should have weighed about 150 pounds....

Circuit Judge William "Bud" Hallman, who imposed the sentence on the couple, said he mulled over defense arguments that the tragedy could have happened to anyone who keeps a big dog, a horse or other large animal.

"Horses eat grass, they eat oats — that's different from a wild animal that unfortunately, based on the testimony, eats small mammals," he said.  "The child was a small mammal, which is on the menu for a wild animal, which a snake is."  The judge compared keeping the python to keeping an alligator in the house.

August 25, 2011 at 10:21 AM | Permalink


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They keep their starving python within slithering reach of a two year-old and then blame the results at sentencing on Casey Anthony.

You have to admire defense counsel's imagination.

P.S. Why, other than sheer cruelty, would people get an animal just to starve it? This sounds like a real nifty couple. Does an individual defense lawyer have to take ANYONE who walks through his door?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 25, 2011 10:37:13 AM

"Circuit Judge William "Bud" Hallman, who imposed the sentence on the couple, said he mulled over defense arguments that the tragedy could have happened to anyone who keeps a big dog, a horse or other large animal."
Anyone? No. Perhaps this could have happened to anyone who bought a particularly vicious mastiff or rottweiler, starved it nearly to death and then left a defenseless baby in it's reach.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Aug 25, 2011 1:11:10 PM

"You have to admire defense counsel's imagination."

We definitely do not have to admire this defense counsel's imagination.

Posted by: Michael Drake | Aug 25, 2011 1:28:24 PM

true michael....but this couple has one hell of a good chance with a later IAC charge becasue if this was the lawyer's defence he's obviously NUTS! and maybe just a little retarded!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 25, 2011 3:11:07 PM


I usually bite my tongue when I see you use it, but enough is enough. Your use of the word "retarded" is offensive. It's akin to using the N-word or the 3 letter F-word (to describe someone you don't like), or the word "gay" (to describe something you dislike).

Enough is enough with the R-word. Obviously, we all have free speech. Should you chose to use such ignorant, childish and bigoted language, that's your choice. But know that it shows your intelligence level. And in a commentary section such as this, where, presumably, you’re hoping to add substantively to the discussion (or persuade on an issue), your language is a disservice.

Posted by: concerned frequent reader | Aug 25, 2011 6:00:31 PM

ok concerned how about theses words!


you pick?

this lawyer is representing a couple that almost starved to DEATH an animal and then leave what in the wild it would consider a MEAL and are just SUPRISED it partaked!

but over all your right i shouldn't use the word "retarde" after all someone who really has that condition can't help it. This joker unless undignozed can!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 26, 2011 5:10:23 PM

I have no problem with you criticizing this lawyer. But you prove the point of the problem in your 5:10:23 post.

You equate being "retarded" (which is an actual condition) with -- to quote you -- being "nuts", "stupid", "brain dead" and "laughable".

It's a shame.

That being said, I thank you for recognizing that you should not be using the word in that manner.

Posted by: concerned frequent reader | Aug 26, 2011 5:41:22 PM

ahh but i'm not talking about a mental conditon. i'm talking about a person's actions. this lawyer is NUTS if he thanks this joke of a defense is gonna fly ANWHERE in the world!

if there is another word to describe his actions....let's hear it!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 26, 2011 10:42:21 PM

Discussing the law as it is today, is this tragedy manslaughter, or negligent homicide?

I find the wife in bed with the illegal alien gardener, wearing muddy boots in bed, I cannot take it. I blast both. That is voluntary manslaughter.

Negligent homicide is really an accident from outrageous carelessness, more fitting to this scenario.

Why not argue that instead of a goofy, but news making argument which does not reduce the culpability of his client? This is a type of bad faith to get in the papers, and may be an ethical lapse. Or he is preserving the appellate argument of inadequate defense.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 27, 2011 12:05:00 PM

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