DARLINGTON COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – The Hartsville mother arrested after a house fire killed her four young children in April 2013 has entered a plea Wednesday afternoon.
According to South Carolina Attorney General’s Office Communications Director Mark Powell, Hope Hawkins entered an Alford Plea before Judge Paul Burch Wednesday during Darlington County general sessions court.
An Alford Plea, also commonly known as an Alford Guilty Plea, is when a defendant enters a plea of guilty, rather than admitting to committing the crime, and maintains her innocence.
Authorities say that Hawkins was not at the home when a fire broke out the afternoon of April 24, 2013, swept through the mobile home and killed her children. However, Hawkins’ attorney, Tonya Copeland Little, told News13 otherwise in June 2013 when Hawkins’ bond was lowered to $50,000.
Little said that according to her phone records, Hawkins was actually the first to dial 911, but because she was so frantic, dialed “699” instead. Little also stated that they have an eyewitness that puts Hawkins at the mailbox in front of the house at the time of the fire.
“She’s innocent until proven guilty, they say she wasn’t home, but nobody knows that,” said Tamika Wright, Hawkins’ aunt. “The only people who know what happened are Hope, those kids and God, so they need to stop judging her.”
Powell confirms that after a presentencing investigation is complete, a date for Hawkins’ sentencing will be set.