TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The mother of two children who were discovered to be living in a storage unit in Ewing, N.J. has taken a plea deal that spares her from serving jail time.
Officials said 28-year-old Sheena Johnson pleaded guilty on Friday to child abuse and contempt charges as part of a plea deal that calls for her to serve four years of probation.
Johnson was charged with child endangerment after her sons, then ages 5 and 10, were found last April in a 5-by-10-foot unit.
The boys were discovered after their mother was arrested in Trenton for allegedly slashing her boyfriend’s tires, police said. An act she said occurred because he refused to drive her sons to school.
The children were evaluated at Capital Health Regional Medical Center and were found to be unharmed, CBS 2 previously reported. They were then put in protective custody.
Johnson said her desperate financial situation and lack of a family support system led her to use the climate-controlled unit as a shelter.
Moved by her plight, community members rallied around Johnson and helped her post bail. They also held a fundraiser for her family at a Trenton restaurant.
Prosecutors said they received numerous calls on Johnson’s behalf, and that they agreed to the plea deal because they didn’t feel it was right to jail Johnson “when she’s taking the right steps” to improve her life.
The two boys remain in the custody of their paternal grandmother, but Johnson said she hopes she can soon regain custody. She recently moved into a three-bedroom apartment after becoming employed through a staffing agency.
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