Coroner Confirms Snake Killed Toddler
Asphyxiation is the preliminary cause of death of Shaianna Hare, the 2-year-old Sumter County girl found dead in her crib with the family’s Burmese python wrapped around her body Wednesday morning, according to Lt. Bobby Caruthers of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office.
“The medical examiner’s preliminary report lists asphyxiation as the cause of death and confirmed the marks on the girl’s head and arms are bite marks,” Caruthers said at a press briefing in Bushnell today.
Meanwhile, the python is being cared for at an undisclosed facility licensed to possess this type of snake, according to the news release.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) investigators removed the python and a red-tailed boa constrictor from the residence yesterday (July 1) after the snakes’ owners voluntarily signed them over to the State of Florida.
A veterinarian examined and treated the python’s stab wounds, and the snake is recovering at the undisclosed facility, where it will remain until officials complete the investigation into the child’s death, according to the release.
“At this point, the snake is evidence in the case. However, once the case has been concluded, it will be offered as a donation to the facility that is currently caring for it,” said FWC investigator Janice Jones.
The Burmese python, classified by the FWC as a Reptile of Concern, had been stabbed by 32-year-old Charles Jason Darnell after he found it wrapped around Shaianna, his girlfriend’s daughter, Wednesday morning. Darnell said the snake had escaped its cage sometime during the night.
State law requires that people have permits to possess Burmese pythons or any Reptile of Concern. Neither Darnell nor his girlfriend, 19-year-old Jaren Ashley Hare, had a permit for a snake. A permit costs $100 annually, and those wishing to possess such an animal must show on their application their understanding of animal husbandry, nutrition and caging requirements for the particular animal.
One requirement for a Reptile of Concern is that it must be kept under lock and key. The snake was not.
FWC investigators are working in conjunction with the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, which covers Sumter, Lake, Marion, Citrus and Hernando counties. The FWC’s role is to investigate and recommend any charges relating to violations of the captive wildlife rules. Such violations are second-degree misdemeanors, which are criminal and carry a maximum penalty of $500 fine and 60 days in jail.
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