Charleston woman accused in deaths of children on trial

CHARLESTON, SC - CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A prosecutor says a South Carolina woman accused of leaving her children to die in a sweltering car could have arranged for someone to care for them.

Sametta Heyward's bench trial began in Charleston Wednesday. Solicitor Scarlett Wilson told a judge considering the case that family friends could have watched the children while Heyward worked.

Heyward faces two counts of homicide by child abuse in the July 2007 deaths of her 4-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter.

Heyward told police she went to work at a county-run group home, leaving the toddlers in her car with battery-powered fans, food and drinks. Authorities said the temperature may have reached 130 degrees.

The first person Heyward told about her dead children testified in court Wednesday.

Brian McPherson lives in Maryland and is the father of Heyward's 15-year-old son Andre. He told the court Heyward called him acting suicidal.

According to McPherson, Heyward told him to take care of their shared son and that McPherson would have custody for a while. The she called again, said McPherson, and was hysterical, repeating over and over, "It was an accident. It was an accident."

In his testimony, McPherson talked about why she didn't go to the hospital the moment she found her children unresponsive in the car. According to him, she feared being sent to prison.

McPherson said Heyward told him she was tired and unable to handle what was going to happen.

Heyward had four children. One of her kids and already been adopted, and a family friend testified that one of Heyward's family members wanted to adopt then one-year-old Triniti. Latricia Stanley, a close friend to Heyward, said she took the two deceased children everywhere. She worked at the Charleston County Disabilities Board to support them.

Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said Heyward had a support network of friends and family that she could have relied on to care for the children instead of trapping them in her car. The words hit home in the courtroom as more than a dozen people in that network trying to support her for her day in court.

Police say Heyward washed and dressed the toddlers' bodies and stuffed them in trash bags and hid them under her kitchen sink.

If convicted, Heyward faces 20 years to life in prison.

Copyright 2010 WCSC. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.