Court Docs: Drowned Toddlers' Mother Had Outstanding Warrant

Prosecutors say it may be weeks before decision is made on whether to file charges

By Paul Krueger and R. Stickney
|  Thursday, May 16, 2013  |  Updated 4:28 PM PDT
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Toddlers' Mother Lied to Protect Friend: Officials

The toddlers in a picture posted on a relative's Facebook page.

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2 Toddlers Drown in Backyard Pool

Investigators will present evidence to the District Attorney's office after two toddlers drowned in a La Mesa pool.

Toddlers' Mother Lied to Protect Friend: Officials

A one-year-old girl had died and her 2-year-old brother was still hospitalized Monday night after both were found unconscious in a swimming pool. NBC 7's Dave Summers filed this report for NBC 7 News at 11 p.m.
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As San Diego County sheriff’s deputies investigate the drowning of two toddlers in a La Mesa pool, NBC 7 San Diego has uncovered court documents that show the victims’ mother was wanted on an outstanding warrant.

The siblings, 16-month-old Harley Bradford and 2-year-old Jason Bradford Jr., were found unresponsive in a pool Monday. Their mother, Tassie Anne Behrens, and a friend jumped in a pickup truck and drove the toddlers from the home at the base of Mount Helix to a La Mesa firehouse on Grossmont Boulevard.

Behrens stayed with the children while emergency personnel tried to save them. Her unidentified friend ran from the scene. Deputies have said they want to question the man about the details surrounding the drowning.

Initially the mother told investigators the children drowned at a pool in Spring Valley. Deputies later determined the drowning had occurred at a home on Sunset Avenue in La Mesa.

Once they searched the home, authorities uncovered a large marijuana grow. They seized the equipment and the plants and arrested a man identified as Larry Dangelo, 44, in connection with the illegal drug operation.

On Wednesday, prosecutors added new charges against Dangelo, including felony child cruelty with possible injury or death. He's scheduled to appear in court on May 24.

Investigators have not filed criminal charges against Behrens in the drowning but have said they are still looking into the circumstances of the children’s deaths.

San Diego County Sheriff’s Lt. Glenn Giannantonio told NBC 7 it could be a few weeks before detectives present their evidence on this case to the District Attorney's office.

Giannantonio said prosecutors want to see test results related to the case.

NBC 7 San Diego obtained court documents that show a judge issued an arrest warrant for the mother of both children on February 20. The case involved two vehicle code violations -- driving on a suspended license with a prior violation and speeding -- issued on November 18, 2012, in the South Bay.

The man listed as the father on one of the toddlers' birth certificates was sentenced to a two-year state prison term in 2011 for motorcycle theft. The toddler’s father, Jason Michael Bradford, also has a criminal history of at least two drug offenses.

Meanwhile, Lakeside Presbyterian Church, which is helping the family deal with this tragedy, has established a fund to help cover burial expenses for Jason and Harley Bradford, church Pastor Bob Mentze told NBC 7 on Thursday.

Mentze says checks should be made payable to Lakeside Presbyterian Church and sent to 9908 Channel Road, Lakeside, CA 92040. The memo line should include the words “Jason & Harley Fund.”

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