Silver Spring mother sentenced to 11 months for abandoning children in a van

ROCKVILLE, MD. — A Silver Spring mother was sentenced to almost a year in prison for leaving nine of her children in a minivan for three days during December 2016.

Sheri Marshall, 37, pled guilty to the charges in April 2018.

On Thursday, she was sentenced to eight years in prison with all but 11 months suspended. She will be on probation for three years after she is released and would have to serve the remainder of the time should she violate her probation.

Prosecutors said on December 16, 2016, Marshall, after an argument, kicked her 12-year-old son out of the family’s minivan onto the side of I-495 somewhere in Greenbelt, Md. The boy was picked up by police and reunited with his father.

She continued driving with nine more of her children still in the van until it ran out of gas along the East-West Highway in Takoma Park.

Prosecutors said the family then spent the next three days and two nights in the van. At night, the temperature was dropping into the 20s. The children told police that Marshall disappeared from the van sometime after they went to sleep the night of December 17, 2016.

Marshall was found by police in the early hours of December 18, 2016 less than a quarter-mile from the van, appearing disoriented and she was taken to the hospital where doctors said she had a large amount of illegal narcotics in her system. Police did not learn her identity until December 19, 2016.

As for the children, who ranged in age from one to 11, still in the minivan. They survived by scrounging for money in the van and used it to buy food and diapers at a nearby gas station. When the money ran out on December 18, 2016, they went to a nearby restaurant to ask for food and the people at the restaurant called police.

Prosecutors said that Marshall’s actions during and after this incident showed she is dangerous. They added that she has since been charged with two separate DUIs in 2018, both while pregnant with her 14th child. They said the second one happened hours after she had pled guilty 2016 case.

That child was born earlier this month and was taken into the care of Maryland’s Child Protective Services, as have her other children.

The judge said Marshall can serve her sentence in Montgomery County so that she can still have visits with her children.

When given a chance to speak, Marshall told the judge that she is determined to improve her life and that what happened is the old her. She added that hearing the charges against her on Thursday made her feel embarrassment, shame, and guilt.

The judge responded that she hoped Marshall does improve, bt added that she is running out of chances.