COLUMBIA — Six months to the day after a South Carolina mother was accused of suffocating her two young sons and driving her car into a river in an attempt to cover up their deaths, a judge on Wednesday granted prosecutors’ request to mentally evaluate the woman.
Court officials confirmed to The Associated Press that Circuit Judge Edgar Dickson agreed that a psychiatrist needs to figure out if 29-year-old Shaquan Duley is fit to stand trial.
Duley was charged with two counts of murder after divers pulled the bodies of 2-year-old Devean Duley and 18-month-old Ja’van Duley from the North Edisto River on Aug. 16. Investigators said Duley confessed to smothering the boys after a fight with her own mother, who Duley said badgered her about her failures as a parent.
Authorities have said Duley fled her mother’s house with her sons to a motel after the fight. Police say she initially told them she fell asleep at the wheel and the car went into the river about 40 miles south of Columbia.
But police said they found no skid marks or signs of a crash. During hours of questioning, Duley acknowledged suffocating the boys at a motel and driving with the bodies to the river and staging the scene, authorities said.
Duley’s attorney, Carl B. Grant, did not immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday. During a September appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s show, Grant said his client was depressed, in part owing to a lack of contact with her children’s father. Grant also told Winfrey he intended to pursue an insanity defense.
Previously, he has said his client was tormented by suicidal thoughts the night of her son’s deaths, consumed a dozen packages of a common headache remedy and tried to slit her wrists.
When those attempts to kill herself failed, Duley intended to die inside her car in the river before changing her mind and climbing out, Grant said.
No trial date had been set for Duley, who has been held in jail without bond since her arrest. In December, Duley lost custody of a third child when a judge granted custody of a young daughter to Duley’s mother.