Citing the state’s cruelty to juveniles statute that requires proof of “unjustifiable pain or suffering” to a child, East Baton Rouge Parish’s chief prosecutor said Friday he doesn’t intend to prosecute a Baton Rouge woman arrested last week for striking three of her sons because they broke into a neighbor’s home and stole items.
“At this time I have no intention to prosecute,” District Attorney Hillar Moore III said of Schaquana Evita Spears. “It would take something significant to change my opinion.”
Spears, a 30-year-old single mother of six children, was arrested on counts of cruelty to juveniles after she admitted whipping three of her boys with a cord.
Moore noted that Louisiana’s cruelty to juveniles law defines the crime as the intentional or criminally negligent mistreatment or neglect by anyone 17 years of age or older of any child under the age of 17 “whereby unjustifiable pain or suffering is caused” to the child.
“It doesn’t fit `unjustifiable pain or suffering’,” he said of Spears’ actions.
State law also says justification can be claimed as a defense when the conduct is “reasonable discipline of minors” by a parent, he noted.
Spears’ attorney, Brenden Craig, said he spoke Friday with his client and she is “very happy” with the district attorney’s statement.
“Hopefully she can get back to her normal life,” he said.
After she was released from jail following a whipping she said was done out of loving concer…
Craig described Spears as a “very loving and caring mother” and said her actions simply did not rise to the level of criminal conduct.
“We thought from the beginning that Miss Spears’ actions were reasonable,” he added.
Spears, whose arrest drew national attention and an outpouring of support as well as some condemnation, isn’t entirely out of the legal woods.
State Attorney General Jeff Landry said last week his office would look into the matter, although he added that he’s appreciative of his mother who did not “spare the rod” when he was a child.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is jumping into the case involving the arrest of a Ba…
“We’re not overly concerned with it,” Spears’ attorney said of the state investigation. “We think the facts speak for themselves.”
One of Spears’ sons, a 13-year-old, suffered bleeding wounds after being whipped, while two of her other sons — ages 10 and 12 — received less serious injuries, according to an East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office report.
The woman whose Satinwood Drive house the boys burglarized while she was not at home has said their mother should be commended for trying to prevent her children from falling “victim to the streets.”
Spears has said she whipped her boys out of loving concern for them.
Craig, her attorney, said Friday he could not speak to the status of her children. Spears has suggested that all or most of her children were taken away from her after her arrest.
But Louisiana’s child protective services agency said Thursday that none of Spears’ children are in state custody.
Moore said he met last week with Spears and Craig in the District Attorney’s Office, not to discuss the facts of the incident but to talk about her children, her background and any help she might need. Spears indicated she could use help, he said.
Moore said offers of assistance have poured in from nonprofit and private groups.
“There are so many people who volunteered to help this family,” he said.