Jaren Hare Trial: Jury selection under way in case of python killing 2-year-old Shaiunna Hare

12:29 PM, Jul 11, 2011   |    comments
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An albino Burmese python is removed from a Florida home after it strangled and killed 2-year-old Shaiunna Hare in June, 2009.


Oxford, Florida - Jury selection began today in a case where a 2-year-old little girl was strangled by an albino Burmese python in Sumter County in June 2009.

On trial in this manslaughter case are the child's mother, 21-year-old Jaren Hare, and her boyfriend, 34-year-old Charles Jason Darnell. They are accused of child neglect in the death of little Shaiunna Hare.

Photo Gallery: Python kills Florida toddler

Several potential jurors from Sumter County have told attorneys that they "cannot sit on this jury" because they "have grandchildren."

"I can't do this," said one man.  "I have grandkids."

"You've already made up your mind?" asked the judge.

"Yes sir," the man answered.

Since this case happened in a small town, it may be difficult to find people who have not heard of this case.

An 8-foot-6-inch Burmese python named Gypsy strangled Shaiunna. Neither Hare nor Darnell had a permit for the pet snake.

The mother's boyfriend spoke with detectives when the incident happened and said that the snake was inside the tank when the family went to bed.

However, later that night, Darnell woke up to find Gypsy out of her tank, which had happened many times before in the month that the couple had the reptile.

Darnell said he put the pet inside a mesh bag and then put it back in the tank.

But, the snake got out through a hole in the bag.

The next morning, the mother's boyfriend woke up to a shocking scene.

The snake was wrapped around the toddler's head. There were bite marks in Shaiunna's forehead, although pythons are not known to be poisonous.

Darnell says he hit the snake with a cleaver and called 911.

Court documents show that Gypsy hadn't been fed in a month, and the only thing keeping the snake inside the tank was a quilt thrown over it.

"The snake's not on trial here," prosecutor Pete Magrino told a reporter.

Hare and Darnell are being tried together. Gypsy is currently being held by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

A jury should be seated Monday. Opening arguments are expected on Tuesday.

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