Mother jailed for smothering children

Shavonda Charleston will spend the rest of her life in prison for smothering her four children.

Shavonda Charleston will spend the rest of her life in prison for smothering her four children.

Charleston entered an Alford plea on Tuesday and was immediately sentenced by Jefferson Circuit Judge Stephen Ryan.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant admits no guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence for a conviction.

In entering the plea, Charleston escapes a possible death sentence had she been convicted.

"There are no appeals from this and she will never have the opportunity to be around children again," said Carol Cobb, the assistant commonwealth’s attorney who prosecuted the case in Louisville, Kentucky.

Charleston, 22, was charged with four counts of capital murder for the deaths of her children.

Three children, 17-month-old Dashay Jones, two-year-old Danesha Jones and five-year-old Jaquanda Smith, were found unconscious in her apartment March 26, 2000 and later died at Kosair Children’s Hospital.

The deaths of the three girls led to the reopening of an investigation into the October 1999 death of another of her children, two-week-old Davonda Jones. Authorities had first listed her death as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Cobb said prosecutors were prepared to argue in court that Charleston was frustrated by raising the children and wanted to live a more carefree lifestyle.

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