A South Carolina mom whose four children died in a house fire was sentenced Monday to seven years and six months in prison.
Hope Hawkins, the mother of two girls and two boys, ages 10 months to 4 years, had entered an Alford Plea in October before Judge Paul Burch in Darlington County.
Also known as an Alford Guilty Plea, the declaration allows a defendant to enter a guilty plea without admitting to committing a crime.
After her four children perished in the 2013 fire, Hawkins, then 21, was charged with multiple counts, including involuntary manslaughter.
Authorities claimed that Hawkins had left the four young children home alone when fire swept through the family’s mobile home.
But Hawkins’ attorney, Tonya Copeland, told CBS affiliate WBTW-TV at the time that Hawkins was the first to call 911 and that a witness saw the mother standing near the home’s mailbox as the fire raged.
The children died from smoke inhalation, authorities said.
“She’s innocent until proven guilty, they say she wasn’t home, but nobody knows that,” Tamika Wright, Hawkins’ aunt, told the station after the fire. “The only people who know what happened are Hope, those kids and God. So they need to stop judging her.”