A Pennsylvania mother was convicted Friday of trying to kill her two young children in a failed murder-suicide attempt, The Citizens’ Voice reports.
Melissa Scholl, 34, was found guilty of two counts of attempted murder after prosecutors alleged she strapped the kids in her vehicle and then connected a garden hose from the exhaust pipe to a window in December 2015.
A bus driver came upon the vehicle and intervened, prompting the case.
While authorities accused Scholl of attempting to kill herself, her defense lawyer, Larry Kansky, argued that police rushed to judgment and jumped to the wrong conclusion.
Kansky said suitcases found in the car showed the kids, who were ages 5 and 7 at the time, were actually going to be dropped off at their grandmother’s home. He also pointed out that the vehicle was not running when the bus driver found it and that Scholl had not sought to flee when discovered.
“She had plenty of time to back up and get out of there if she thought she was going to be charged with attempted murder,” Kansky told jurors.
However, prosecutors asserted that Scholl took clear efforts to take her life and the lives of her children. Those actions included strapping the kids into the vehicle; driving them to a dark and secluded parking lot; and kissing and hugging the children for what she said would be the final time.
Scholl also wrote to her mother in a text message that she planned to commit suicide, but stopped responding while her mother asked frantically about the condition of the kids, First Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said.
“This was not a cry for help,” Sanguedolce said. “She never told her mom where she was, despite her asking.”
Jurors started deliberations just after 12 p.m. Friday and had announced their verdict within three hours.
Juror Mark Wallace told the newspaper that while the jury considered the possibility Scholl was simply seeking help, they believed the evidence was more indicative of suicide.
“If (the bus driver) wouldn’t have found her in the parking lot that night, we don’t know what would have happened,” Wallace said. “Everybody in the room felt that she got into a bad place and she made a really terrible decision, and she’s going to have to live with that, unfortunately.”
The conviction comes after a previous prosecution attempt resulted in a hung jury in June.
Scholl is scheduled to be sentenced November 20. She faces a total of 20 to 40 years in prison.
[Featured Image: Luzerne County Correctional Facility]