Mother gets 35 years for killing 2 sons

Jeffrey Collins/associated Press
Shaquan Duley and her lawyer, Carl B. Grant, stood before a judge Friday as she was sentenced.

ORANGEBURG, S.C. - A 30-year-old South Carolina mother will spend the next 35 years in prison for suffocating her two sons, then putting them in her car and staging a crash into a river after a fight with her mother over her parenting skills.

Shaquan Duley said nothing during the less-than 10-minute hearing Friday except a quiet “yes, sir’’ as Circuit Court Judge Edgar Dickson asked her questions about the day in August 2010 she killed 2-year-old Devean and 18-month-old Ja’van by putting her hand over their mouths in a rundown motel room. The single parent was living with her mother, had no job, and was depressed and upset about multiple issues at the time of the slayings.

She pleaded guilty to murder earlier this month and faced 30 years to life in prison without parole. Prosecutors made no recommendation but offered no mercy either. Duley will have to serve every day of her sentence.


“You have left no one involved in the case with a good choice here today,’’ Dickson said. “Your family has the unenviable task of deciding between the grief of losing their grandchildren and supporting their child, the mother who killed them.’’

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The case brought back heartrending reminders of Susan Smith, who rolled her car into a lake with her 3-year-old and 14-month-old sons in the back seat in Union County in 1994.

Prosecutors said Duley strapped her sons’ bodies into their car seats after killing them and drove to a river 10 miles away. She killed them because she was depressed over failing online classes and not having a job. She also was upset the father of the boys didn’t have anything to do with them.