ROCKVILLE, Md. - A mother was sentenced to 11 months in jail and three years of supervised probation in a serious case of child neglect.
Sheri Marshall pleaded guilty to forcing her then-12-year-old son out on the Capital Beltway and later abandoning nine of her other young children in their minivan for two days in the middle of winter.
Marshall shed some tears in court on Thursday as did one of her older daughters and other family members who came to say she is a changed person after hitting rock bottom.
“We believe that today's sentence is a just and fair one and we just hope that she can mend her ways and be on her way to healing,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office spokesperson Ramon Korionoff.
Police body camera footage presented in court showed officers arriving to find nine of Marshall’s youngest children at a restaurant in Takoma Park where they had walked to get food after being abandoned by their 37-year-old mother.
It then shows officers walking to the white minivan where the kids spent about two days crammed inside in 20-degree weather.
Marshall ended up pleaded guilty to several counts of child neglect after driving 10 of her children to their grandmother’s house back in Dec. 2016.
During the middle of the drive, Marshall and her 12-year-old son got into an argument. Investigators said the mother kicked him out of the van onto the side of Interstate 495 in Greenbelt and took off. The van later ran out of gas in Takoma Park.
Instead of getting help, police said Marshall and her nine kids, ages 1 to 11, spent the next day living out of the van in the frigid conditions.
On the morning of Dec. 18, 2016, the children woke up and discovered their mother was gone.
After running out of loose change found in the van, police said the kids eventually walked to La Chiquita Restaurant where the staff fed them and called 911.
Marshall was later spotted stumbling aimlessly off of East-West Highway where she was determined to be under the influence of illegal drugs.
What is even more disturbing is that while Marshall was going through the court system for these serious charges, she was arrested twice this spring for DUI while being six months pregnant with her 14th child.
On Thursday, a Montgomery County judge tried to find a balance between punishment and progress.
“Having the opportunity to remain local in Montgomery County at the local jail allows her to avail herself of psychiatric services, drug treatment as well as lifestyle management to ensure that she is able to better take care of her children, and later if Child Protective Services deems appropriate be reunited with her newborn,” said Korionoff. “Eleven months is still a lot of time to think about all of the troubles that she has been through and also to mend her ways.”
Marshall has already served 70 days in jail that will count towards her sentence. She currently does not have custody of any of her children, including her newborn baby. She is still facing more charges related to the two alleged DUIs.