Mother pleads guilty to killing children

A woman pleaded guilty to two counts of murder in an Orangeburg court room Friday morning.

Shaquan Duley,30, suffocated her sons Devan, 2, and 18-month-old Javan at the Trumps Inn in downtown Orangeburg in August 2010. She then drove her car into the Edisto River with the boys bodies strapped into their car seats.

She sounded remorseful in front of Judge Edgar Dixon.

"In spite of what anybody else thinks in this world, I want you and everyone else to know that I love my sons. I love them dearly," said Duley.

Duley's mental health was evaluated by doctors for the Defense and the Solicitors office. The results were mixed, according to Solicitor David Pascoe.

"They have a doctor who says she was mentally ill at the time of the crime. We had her examined by a Forensics Psychiatrist at the Department of Mental Health. He found that yes, Ms. Duley did have some mental illness. But not to the point where she would be insane," said Pascoe.

Duley apologized for her actions Friday; and her parents pleaded for mercy in her sentencing. Duley's Defense worked to decrease the charges she faces to Homicide by Child Abuse or Voluntary Manslaughter; but the move did not work thanks to Pascoe.

"In those cases that I've prosecuted in the past, where people were convicted by homicide by child abuse, the caregiver, the parent did not necessarily intend to kill the child. Here, Shaquan Duley intended to kill those two babies."

Defense Attorney Carl B. Grant said his client was depressed from people criticizing her parenting skills. But he added that the plea shows she is showing accountability.

"This is a very tragic situation. There is no doubt about that. So she decided to accept responsibility and plead guilty and get this matter behind her," said Grant.

Judge Dixon has delayed the sentencing phase until the week of March 26. That gives him enough time to review all of the information from Friday's appearance. Duley will not have to worry about the death penalty by pleading guilty, but could face between 30 years and life in prison.