Mother pleads guilty in toddler drownings

EL CAJON - A woman whose two toddlers drowned in a swimming pool in May at a friend's home near Mt. Helix while she slept pleaded guilty Monday to a pair of felony child endangerment charges.
 
Tassie Anne Behrens, 28, faces a sentence that could range from probation on the low end to a maximum of seven years and four months in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 17.
 
Behrens' friend, 45-year-old Larry Dangelo, pleaded guilty to manufacturing of honey oil -- or hash oil -- and will be sentenced to five years in prison on Sept. 23.
 
Sheriff's Detective Norman Hubbert testified last year that Behrens first told him the tragedy took place at a mobile home park in Spring Valley.

But when he told her that deputies went to the house at 10011 Sunset Ave. rented by Dangelo, she conceded that was where the tragedy had occurred.
 
During a search, deputies found about five dozen marijuana plants in the basement.
 
According to the detective, Behrens took her son, Jason Bradford Jr., 2 years and 9 months old, and daughter Harley Bradford, 16 months, swimming the night of May 12, 2013. She said they all went to bed around 9 p.m. – the children on a couch and she in a bedroom with Dangelo.
 
Hubbert testified that Behrens told him that she saw her children on the couch when she used the restroom around 4 a.m., but four hours later, Jason came in and asked about Harley's whereabouts. Behrens told the detective she fell back asleep, and neither child was around when she woke up.
   
“She went out to the back patio that overlooks the back yard and saw the children face-down in the pool," Hubbert said.
 
Behrens ran down screaming to the pool and pulled them out, and the children were rushed to Grossmont Hospital, where Harley was pronounced dead.

Jason was transferred to Rady Children's Hospital, but he also died.
 
Carter "Corky" Bennett, who lived in a motorhome on Dangelo's property, testified that he introduced Behrens, whom he'd known for eight or nine years, to Dangelo when she needed a place to stay and "they hit it off."
 
Bennett said she'd been staying at the house for about two weeks before the children drowned. He also said Dangelo played with the children and "paid attention to them."
 
Hubbert said Behrens told him she stayed at Dangelo's residence "on-and- off" for about one week before her children's death.
 
"She considered them girlfriend-boyfriend, but it was not official," the detective said.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments