SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - An Arizona mother who allegedly left her children in a hot car while she went on a job interview has pleaded not guilty to child abuse charges.
Shanesha Taylor, 35, entered her plea Monday. Her next court appearance is scheduled for May 22.
Taylor was arrested March 20 after a passerby found Taylor's children, ages 2 and 6 months, inside the car in an office parking lot in Scottsdale and informed authorities.
According to court documents, Scottsdale firefighters found the windows of the vehicle rolled down only an inch and no running air conditioning to keep the children cool. The baby was described as wearing a short-sleeve shirt over a long-sleeve shirt, as well as a blanket.
Taylor arrived back at the car more than an hour after her interview time, the documents said, and according to CBS affiliate KHOU, she told authorities she had just finished a job interview and did not have anyone to watch her children.
"She was upset. This is a sad situation all around. She said she was homeless. She needed the job. Obviously, not getting the job. So it's just a sad situation," said Scottsdale Police Sgt. Mark Clark, according to the station.
Taylor was arrested and booked into jail for child abuse.
The case has attracted considerable attention on the Internet as a fundraising site created by a New Jersey woman for Taylor has amassed nearly $90,000. Taylor's tearful police mugshot, the danger she put her children in, and her dilemma of trying to juggle a lack of child care with her job pursuit all have contributed to the debate.
Amanda Bishop, a 24-year-old New Jersey woman, couldn't get the tear-streaked mugshot image out of her head. Bishop said she was inspired to set up the fundraising page for Taylor because she could relate to growing up in a family that doesn't have a lot of money.
"I had a mother and family in general who struggled raising us and had to rely on other resources to provide for us and sometimes made not the greatest choices," Bishop said.
But prosecutors point out that Taylor's actions put the safety of her children in danger.
"Everything is focused on the mother and understandably so. It seems to be a very compelling human interest story," County Attorney Bill Montgomery said at a recent news conference. "But I'm equally concerned and compelled about the circumstances those two children were in."
Montgomery said it's too soon to determine if Taylor will receive a prison term or face losing custody of her children. Her offenses could amount to a sentence ranging from probation to seven years in prison, prosecutors said.
Neither Taylor nor her court-appointed attorney has responded to requests for comment.