Shanesha Taylor / AP photo/Scottsdale police
PHOENIX -- A mother accused of leaving her two young children alone in her vehicle while she attended a job interview in Scottsdale was granted supervised contact with her children Thursday during a pretrial hearing.
Commissioner Richard Nothwehr granted the motion to allow Shanesha Taylor of Phoenix visitation rights for her 8-month-old and 2-year-old sons.
Taylor, 35, has been barred from seeing them since her March 20 arrest in Scottsdale. News of her arrest and her emotional booking photo drew national interest.
"This is a big victory for the defense," attorney Benjamin Taylor said. "My client is looking forward to seeing her kids once again."
Police say Shanesha Taylor, 35, left her children in her Dodge Durango for 45 minutes while in a Farmers Insurance office in Scottsdale. Taylor told police she was jobless, without child care that day and had occasionally been homeless.
The arrest sparked a national discussion about poverty and access to public assistance. In two months, more than $114,775 was donated through a charity fundraising website to assist with Taylor's legal fees and other expenses.
"This case is bigger than her," Benjamin Taylor said. "Many people can relate to Mrs. Taylor's circumstances. This sheds light on the poverty many people in this country face."
He said that his client is thankful for all the support she has received and that the money will go toward building the future of her children. Taylor has already used a portion of the funds to find a safe place to live, he said.
"The public, in the rush to judge her, has lost sight that she has served her country," the Rev. Jarrett Maupin said. "A veteran has fallen through the safety net."
Taylor served in the Air Force for several years before being honorably discharged, he said.
Maupin said that while Thursday's decision had been fair, the initial circumstances were not, noting that her bail was set higher than called for.
"People who did worse and were not looking to better themselves have received better than Mrs. Taylor."
Taylor was released from jail March 31 on $9,000 bond and has been indicted on two felony counts. Her children were examined at a hospital the day of her arrest and released as uninjured. They are now with family and under the supervision of the Division of Child and Family Services.
Taylor has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, she faces a minimum of two years of probation for each count.
"This isn't over," Benjamin Taylor said. "We still have the felony charges hanging over her head."
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