ORANGEBURG, SC (WIS) - The Orangeburg woman accused of suffocating her two small children, strapping them into car seats and then driving her car into the Edisto River could face the death penalty, said 1st Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe.
Pascoe says the case qualifies for the death penalty. If two or more people are murdered, or if a child under the age of 11 is murdered, then it qualifies, he said Tuesday morning.
Pascoe has not yet decided if his office will seek the death penalty, but his office is reading through evidence and police reports now to determine how they will proceed.
Orangeburg County Sheriff Larry Williams announced Tuesday morning at a press conference that 29-year-old Shaquan Duley confessed to investigators late Monday night. "At the end of the evening, she stated she had suffocated the children, they were dead when they were placed into the water," Williams said.
When Duley confessed, she told investigators she was unemployed and living with her mother. The two often fought about Duley's parenting, Williams said. "Her mother was a very firm individual and believed in values," said Williams. "From what we can determine, she often talked with her daughter about maybe being more of a mother."
The night before 18-month-old Ja'van T. Duley and 2-year-old Devean C. Duley were placed in the river, the two women had an argument about the children and, Duley said the investigators, "she just wanted to be free."
Investigators don't believe Duley woke up Monday morning with the intent of driving her children into the Edisto River, but say that is something they are continuing to investigate.
It's a belief investigators have to reconcile with Duley's confession that she took the two children to the Trumps Inn on Highway 301 and suffocated them before placing them in their car seats and heading for Shillings Bridge Road.
At the Trumps Inn, owner Renuka Patel was surprised that one of her recent tenants was accused of killing her two children on the motel's property. Patel produced Duley's receipt for the room which shows Duley checked in about 1:30am Monday and paid $30 for the room.
Patel says she never saw Duley's car or her boys, but she could tell Duley was scared of something when she asked to rent a room. "She seemed like strange to me," said Patel. "When she gave me the $100 bill, when I try to give her the money, she just took the money. She didn't count it. and she just ran out."
The news about what happened inside the motel room was still tough for Patel to talk about on Tuesday. "I feel so sad for those kids."
Duley's third child, a 5-year-old, is safe and living with Duley's mother.