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No charges to be filed in drowning deaths of toddlers

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HOLLY HILL, Fla. – No charges will be filed in the deaths of two toddlers who drowned in a Volusia County pool, News 6 has learned.

According to a memo from the State Attorney's Office, prosecutors did not find sufficient evidence to charge Martha Jenkins, 33, with manslaughter like deputies recommended.

[READ: Full memo]

Jenkins was watching the toddlers and mother to one and grandmother to the other.

On July 30, 2015, 1-year-old Ashton Jenkins and 2-year-old Shana Cavanaugh slipped out of an unlocked sliding glass door and tumbled into the dark, algae-infested pool behind a Holly Hill home.

Jenkins claimed she put the toddlers to sleep around 11 p.m. the night before and barricaded them in their rooms by locking all of the doors.

When she woke up around 7 a.m. the next morning, the toddlers were still asleep, so she went back to sleep, the memo states. But when she woke up again just before noon, the back sliding glass door was open.

Prosecutors said Jenkins then found the toddlers face down, not breathing in the pool.

According to the memo, to this date, it is still unknown who opened the sliding glass door. Prosecutors add that although important, it doesn't legally affect the case.

The State Attorney's Office said in the memo, "The facts surrounding this tragedy do not rise to the level of culpable negligence sufficient to the filing of criminal charges. It also notes Jenkins took the appropriate steps to secure both children.

But what about the pool, which was filled with rainwater and the lack of a safety fence surrounding it?

News 6 asked prosecutors if that could've been enough to charge Jenkins with a crime and they said, "The circumstances of this case, though tragic and potentially avoidable with the benefit of hindsight, do not rise to the level of egregious acts demonstrating a gross or flagrant violation of the duty of care."

Jenkins said before this all happened, she asked DCF for a pump to get all the rainwater out of the pool. She claimed DCF told her they didn't have the funding to help her out.
 


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