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Bail denied for S.C. mother accused in sons' suffocation deaths

By the CNN Wire Staff
An attorney said Monday that Shaquan Duley, 29, was suffering from mental illness when her sons were killed.
An attorney said Monday that Shaquan Duley, 29, was suffering from mental illness when her sons were killed.
  • Shaquan Duley's family argues on her behalf
  • The prosecutor leaves open the possibility of a capital murder trial in the case
  • Duley is accused of killing her two sons before driving their bodies into a river

(CNN) -- A judge in Orangeburg County, South Carolina, denied bail Monday for a woman charged with two counts of murder in the smothering deaths of her two young sons last month.

Shaquan Duley, 29, wiped away tears and held her head in her hand throughout the hearing as relatives and friends asked Judge Edgar Dickson to grant her bail.

"My daughter has never been in trouble with the law until now," said Duley's mother, Helen Duley.

She described her daughter as "a very loving and kindhearted person" and a "good mother [who] truly loves her children and tried to provide the best that she could for them."

Orangeburg County Solicitor David Pascoe, however, argued that bail be denied "due to the severe nature of the allegations" and left open the possibility that he could seek the death penalty against Duley in a capital murder trial.

Pascoe also said Duley remains a danger to the community and to her 5-year-old daughter, who was not with her at the time of the boys' deaths.

Video: No bail in suffocation deaths

Authorities say Duley pressed her hand over the mouths of 2-year-old Devean Duley and 1-year-old Ja'van Duley, suffocating them inside a motel room at the Trumps Inn, just outside of Orangeburg, the night of August 15. She then strapped her dead sons into their car seats, drove across town to a boat ramp, put the car in neutral and sent it into a river, they say.

Orangeburg County Sheriff Larry Williams told reporters last month that Duley had no means of taking care of her children.

"She lives with her mother, and her mother was a very, I guess, firm individual," Williams said. "She often talked with her daughter about, I guess, maybe being more of a mother or being more reliable."

The mother and daughter argued the night before the children's bodies were found in Duley's Chrysler sedan, Williams said.

"We believe this is a direct response [to the argument] from Ms. Duley," he said. "I believe she was just fed up with her mother telling her she couldn't take care of the children, and she wasn't taking care of her children, and she just wanted to be free."

On Monday, Duley's attorney, Carl Grant, argued that his client was suffering from mental illness at the time of the killings and had tried to commit suicide as many as three times.

"She is a very quiet, reserved, caring and fun-loving person who loved her children but was going through a very tough time the last three years," Grant said, citing the deaths of two family members, a bout with bone cancer, her unemployment and having to raise three small children by herself.