Judge denies bond for Duley — (The Times and Democrat)

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The Times and Democrat

By RICHARD WALKER, T&D Staff Writer 

Posted: Monday, September 13, 2010 1:00 pm

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.

Contact the writer: rwalker@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5516.