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Old August 26th, 2009, 01:52 AM
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Default Couple charged in girl’s python death

Pet 8-foot python escaped from cage and killed 2-year-old girl

OXFORD, Fla. - A 32-year-old man and the mother of a Florida girl suffocated by a pet python last month have been charged in the toddler's death.

Jaren Ashley Hare, 19, and her boyfriend, Charles Jason Darnell, were each charged with manslaughter, third-degree murder and child abuse, said officials from the Sumter County Sheriff's Office.

Two-year-old Shaianna Hare died July 1.

Darnell, the 8-foot python's owner, told authorities that he discovered the snake missing from its terrarium and went to the girl's room, where he found it on the girl and bite marks on her head, Lt. Bobby Caruthers of the Sumter County Sheriff's Office said.

Darnell said he stabbed the snake until he was able to pry the child away, and then called 911.

"The baby's dead!" the sobbing caller from the house screamed to a 911 dispatcher in the July recording. "Our stupid snake got out in the middle of the night and strangled the baby."

A medical examiner determined the girl died from asphyxiation.

Hare and Darnell were each being held on $35,000 bond. Court documents that would list attorneys for them have not yet been processed.

Florida's python problem
The Humane Society of the United States said including Shaianna's death, at least 12 people have been killed in the U.S. by pet pythons since 1980, including five children.

Pythons are not native to Florida, but some residents keep them as pets, especially Burmese pythons, which can grow to more than 15 feet and weigh more than 150 pounds.

When the snakes become too large, some owners release them into the Everglades and other wild areas, Florida officials say. One killed an alligator and then burst when it tried to eat it.

"It's becoming more and more of a problem, perhaps no fault of the animal, more a fault of the human," said Jorge Pino, a state wildlife commission spokesman. "People purchase these animals when they're small. When they grow, they either can't control them or release them."

The Associated Press contributed to this report


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