Hope Hawkins, the Hartsville mother charged in the 2013 deaths of her four young children, took an Alford guilty plea deal Wednesday afternoon – meaning she pleaded guilty but maintains her innocence.
She took the Alford plea before Circuit Court Judge Paul, meaning she doesn’t admit guilt to the crimes but prosecutors have enough evidence to convict her, according to South Carolina Attorney General’s Office Communications Director Mark Powell.
Powell said Judge Burch ordered a pre-sentencing investigation, and a date for a hearing will be set at a later time.
Hawkins was charged with four counts of homicide by child abuse and unlawful neglect of a child in April 2013 when four children died of smoke inhalation after her house caught on fire.
Investigators allege Hawkins left the young children at home alone that day, but Hawkins maintains she was just outside in the yard by the mailbox when the fire broke out at approximately 2 p.m. April 24, 2013. Hawkins and the children lived at the residence with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend.
Darlington County Coroner Todd Hardee said the children, 2-year-old Camaron Mason, 4-year-old Delonta Dixon and 10-month-old twin sisters Myasia Hawkins and Kynasia Hawkins, all died of smoke inhalation.
Hawkins will remain in custody at the Darlington County Detention Center until her sentencing.