Attorney says Casey Anthony verdict affected Sumter County python attack trial

Defense attorney says defendants felt backlash

BUSHNELL, Fla. - Last month, Charles Darnell and girlfriend Jaren Hare were both found guilty in the death of Hare's 2-year-old daughter Shianna.

The little girl was strangled and killed by the family's pet Burmese python in July 2009.

Wednesday afternoon, despite pleas for mercy from family members, they were both sentenced to 12 years in prison.

"Know that they did not mean for this to happen," said Darnell's stepmother, Laurie Darnell.

Darnell's attorney, Rhiannon Arnold, says the the Casey Anthony verdict, reached just a week before, was a factor here. She says she was not allowed to ask jurors if the not-guilty decision in Orlando was on their mind.

"We don't know what those jurors were thinking, other than what most of America's thinking, that Casey Anthony didn't report her child missing.  Here we are a week later dealing with a dead child," said Arnold.

With so many upset that Anthony walked free, Arnold says the jurors came down hard on Darnell and Hare, finding them guilty of 3rd degree murder, manslaughter and child neglect.

"Nobody wants what they claim to be responsible for a child's death to walk free after what Casey Anthony did," said Arnold.

Both Hare and Darnell addressed the judge briefly. Hare said she will always feel the pain and miss her daughter.

Darnell said if he could take what happened back, he would.

"There's no way I would have caused any harm to any of my children," said a sobbing Darnell.

An appeal is planned in this case. The couple could have been sentenced to 45 years each instead of the 12 years they received.

They had a child together shortly after Shianna's death, another little girl who is in the custody of a family member.

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