Mother who drove kids into Kansas River sentenced to life in prison for murder of her daughter

photo by: Mike Yoder

Defendant Scharron Dingledine attends a hearing in Judge Peggy Kittel’s courtroom, where she entered a plea agreement with the prosecution on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018.

A mentally ill Missouri mother convicted of murdering her 5-year-old daughter and trying to murder her 1-year-old son by driving the children into the Kansas River has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole until after 25 years.

Scharron R. Dingledine, 26, of Columbia, Mo., pleaded guilty on Dec. 17 to felony first-degree murder of daughter, Amiyah Bradley, rather than her initial charge of premeditated first-degree murder. She pleaded guilty as charged to attempted first-degree murder of her son, Elijah Lake.

Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson announced the murder conviction sentence, which is also known as a “hard 25,” Tuesday afternoon in a news release. Dingledine was sentenced to an additional 155 months, almost 13 years, in prison for the attempted murder conviction, which is the standard sentence for that conviction.

The sentencing hearing was held in Judge Peggy Kittel’s courtroom on Tuesday, according to the news release.

About 1:15 p.m. Aug. 3, Lawrence police officers plunged into the Kansas River near downtown Lawrence after passersby reported a car and people floating in the water.

They pulled Dingledine to shore, then Elijah, who remained hospitalized for months. Amiyah’s body was recovered the next morning.

Dingledine told police that she had decided to kill herself and also decided to kill her children “because she did not want anyone else to have them.” Branson recounted the evidence in court in December, adding that Dingledine also told police she drove into the river because she knew neither child could swim and would likely die.

By accepting the plea deal on the felony first-degree murder charge, Dingledine became eligible for a hard 25 sentence. The initial charge of premeditated first-degree murder would have had Dingledine face a maximum sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole for 50 years.

Branson did not offer comment on Tuesday about the sentencing outcome. However, in December, when he presented the plea deal to the court, he said Dingledine’s mental illness made the murder case appropriate for a plea agreement.

“Certainly, this is a horribly, horribly tragic event, and one that Ms. Dingledine needs to be held accountable for,” Branson said in December. “But we have to take into consideration some of the circumstances that caused this event to occur.”

Branson said in December that while he believes a life sentence is appropriate for the harm caused by Dingledine’s actions, it’s appropriate for Dingledine to be able to seek parole at a “realistic” date and put herself in a position where she could have some kind of future.

In December, Dingledine told Judge Kittel that she suffers from both bipolar disorder type II and borderline personality disorder, and had begun receiving treatment medication while she was in the Douglas County Jail.

Related stories

Dec. 17 — Mother who drove kids into Kansas River pleads guilty to murder and attempted murder

Dec. 3 — Mother accused of driving car into river pleads not guilty in daughter’s drowning

Oct. 2 — No preliminary hearing for Missouri mom charged with driving kids into Kansas River, killing one

Aug. 28 — Mother accused of driving kids into Kansas River deemed mentally fit to stand trial for murder

Aug. 15 — Affidavit: Mother told police she drove into river to kill herself and her 2 children ‘because she didn’t want anyone else to have them’

Aug. 10 — Kansas River murder suspect had contact with Missouri police, court and mental health facility the day before tragedy in Lawrence

Aug. 9 — Authorities: Car in Kansas River murder case was stolen out of small Missouri town

Aug. 8 — Family buries girl, 5, allegedly murdered by her own mother driving into Kansas River

Aug. 6 — Murder charges: Woman intentionally drove car into river near downtown Lawrence in attempt to kill children

Aug. 5 — Father: Girl, 5, recovered from Kansas River was ‘really sweet girl and a great big sister’

Aug. 4 — Woman arrested on suspicion of murder, attempted murder after water rescue incident

Aug. 4 — Body of 5-year-old recovered from Kansas River scene

Aug. 3 — After lengthy water rescue, police believe 1 occupant of vehicle that sank in Kansas River is still missing


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