UPDATE: Judge gives mother maximum sentence in deaths of two children

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CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- UPDATE 1/30/18 @ 11 a.m.
A mother charged in a crash that killed two of her children has been given the maximum sentence.

Siera Burgess was sentenced to 7-40 years in prison on two counts of DUI resulting in death and a count of child neglect causing injury.

Burgess entered a Kennedy Plea in Dec. 2017 to the charges.

She was arraigned in March 2017 after a crash on Interstate 64 in Cabell County that killed two of her children, 3-year-old Skylor Cooper and 1-year-old Sarah Cooper.

Her other daughter, Madilyn, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Burgess will also be placed on 50 years of supervised release when she gets out of jail.

She was originally indicted on charges of DUI causing death, DUI causing serious bodily injury, child neglect resulting in death and child neglect resulting in serious bodily injury.

According to the criminal complaint, Milton Police found several beer cans in the crash area, including some in Burgess's car and some nearby in the debris field.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 12/19/17 @ 9:40 a.m.
A mother has entered a Kennedy plea of guilty in the deaths of her two children, as well as to the injuries to another one of her kids.

Siera Burgess, of Branchland, entered the plea Tuesday morning to two counts of DUI causing death and one count of child neglect resulting in serious bodily injury.

Burgess was arraigned in March after a crash on Interstate 64 in Cabell County that killed two of her children, 3-year-old Skylor Cooper and 1-year-old Sarah Cooper.

Her other daughter, Madilyn, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

"People don't sit in my cell at night," Burgess said after the hearing, when asked if she had suffered enough and what she was feeling in her heart.

She was originally indicted on charges of DUI causing death, DUI causing serious bodily injury, child neglect resulting in death and child neglect resulting in serious bodily injury.

According to the criminal complaint, Milton Police found several beer cans in the crash area, including some in Burgess's car and some nearby in the debris field.

An earlier lab report also found drugs in Burgess's system, investigators say. They say it was a benzodiazepine-type drug, like Xanax, which has a relaxing effect.

A later lab report showed that the benzodiazepine found was a false positive.

A Kennedy plea in West Virginia occurs when the defendant doesn't admit the act, but admits the prosecution could like prove the charge.

Prosecutors revealed evidence that would be discussed if the case would've gone to trial.

Assistant prosecutor Sharon Frazier says two people noticed that Burgess was under the influence before the accident.

"Another individual also saw Ms. Burgess at that time and likewise believed Ms. Burgess was not capable of driving safely," Frazier said. "That individual actually followed Ms. Burgess in her vehicle and called 911, attempting to have Ms. Burgess stopped."

Burgess is scheduled to be sentenced in January 2018.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 9/18/17 @ 12:45 p.m.
CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A mother pleaded not guilty Monday in the death of two of her children and the injury of another one of her children.

Siera Burgess, of Branchland, was in Cabell County court after being indicted on charges of DUI causing death, DUI causing serious bodily injury, child neglect resulting in death and child neglect resulting in serious bodily injury.

Burgess' bond remains at $2.5 million.

Burgess was arraigned in March after a crash on I-64 in Cabell County that killed two of her children, 3-year-old Skylor Cooper and 1-year-old Sarah Cooper.

Her other daughter, 7-year-old Madilyn, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

According to the criminal complaint, Milton Police found several beer cans in the crash area, including some in Burgess's car and some nearby in the debris field.

An earlier lab report also found drugs in Burgess's system, investigators say. They say it was a benzodiazepine-type drug, like Xanax, which has a relaxing effect.

An aunt of Burgess told investigators she witnessed Burgess in "an extremely intoxicated condition" before the crash that night and that she tried to stop her from driving with her children, including calling Lincoln County 911 to report her condition.



UPDATE 9/15/17 @ 4:45 p.m.
CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A mother has been indicted by a grand jury in the death of two of her children and the injury of another one of her children.

Siera Burgess, of Branchland, was indicted Friday on charges of DUI causing death, DUI causing serious bodily injury, child neglect resulting in death and child neglect resulting in serious bodily injury.

Burgess was arraigned in March after a crash on I-64 in Cabell County that killed two of her children, 3-year-old Skylor Cooper and 1-year-old Sarah Cooper.

Her other daughter, 7-year-old Madilyn, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

According to the criminal complaint, Milton Police found several beer cans in the crash area, including some in Burgess's car and some nearby in the debris field.

An earlier lab report also found drugs in Burgess's symptoms, investigators say. They say it was a benzodiazepine-type drug, like Xanax, which has a relaxing effect.

An aunt of Burgess told investigators she witnessed Burgess in "an extremely intoxicated condition" before the crash that night and that she tried to stop her from driving with her children, including calling Lincoln County 911 to report her condition.

The aunt said Burgess managed to make it home safely to Branchland before she left and attempted to drive to Charleston to a relative's home.

Burgess is being held at Western Regional Jail on a $2.5 million cash only bond.



UPDATE 3/24/17 @ 4:40 p.m.
CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A mother accused of DUI causing death of two of her children and DUI causing injury of her other child was arraigned Friday in Cabell County Magistrate Court on those charges.

Siera Lenise Burgess, 26, of Branchland, West Virginia, has been hospitalized since the crash happened March 3 on Interstate 64, just east of the Milton exit.

Killed in the crash were her toddlers Skylor Cooper, 3, and Sarah Cooper, 1. Her other daughter, 7-year-old Madilyn, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Burgess was driving east on I-64 and crossed the median, colliding with a westbound truck hauling a camper, as well as with a tractor-trailer. The people in those vehicles were not hurt.

Burgess, who was in a wheelchair during her arraignment, didn't show much emotion to our WSAZ camera.

"I have no idea," she said when asked why she was driving under the influence with her kids in the car. "I don't want to talk about it."

When asked what the last few weeks have been like for her, she replied "difficult."

"I've been working with the Milton Police Department on her levels of intoxication," Cabell County Prosecutor Sean "Corky" Hammers said. "We've already acquired an expert. These levels of intoxication, if any, can't just be determined really quickly, so we're going to do everything we can to make sure we get it right and make sure we know what the evidence is, and if she was intoxicated, exactly how bad she was intoxicated."

According to the criminal complaint, Milton Police found several beer cans in the crash area, including some in Burgess's car and some nearby in the debris field.

An earlier lab report also found drugs in Burgess's symptoms, investigators say. They say it was a benzodiazepine-type drug, like Xanax, which has a relaxing effect.

An aunt of Burgess told investigators she witnessed Burgess in "an extremely intoxicated condition" before the crash that night and that she tried to stop her from driving with her children, including calling Lincoln County 911 to report her condition.

The aunt said Burgess managed to make it home safely to Branchland before she left and attempted to drive to Charleston to a relative's home.

Burgess was taken to the Western Regional Jail. Her bond is set at $2.5 million cash only.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 3/8/17 @ 4:35 p.m.
MILTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Milton Police Chief Joe Parsons tells WSAZ the mother behind the wheel of a fatal crash that killed two toddlers will face another charge.

Siera Lenise Burgess, 26, of Branchland, will also be charged with DUI causing injury in relation to a 7-year-old that survived the fatal accident on I-64 in Milton on March 3.

Burgess is already facing two counts of DUI causing death for her two children, Skylor and Sarah.

Milton Police say a lab report shows drugs and alcohol were found in Burgess's system.

They say it was a benzodiazepine-type drug, like Xanax, which relaxes you. Police say at this point they believe the combination is what caused the accident.

Chief Parson says Burgess remains in the hospital for her injuries.



UPDATE 3/6/17 @ 2:30 p.m.
MILTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A mother will be charged with the death of her two toddlers, who were killed Friday in a crash on Interstate 64 involving two other vehicles, Milton Police say.

Siera Lenise Burgess, 26, of Branchland, West Virginia, is still in Cabell Huntington Hospital. She will be charged with two counts of DUI causing death, Milton Police say. Those warrants were obtained Monday in Cabell County Magistrate Court.

Milton Police say a lab report shows drugs and alcohol were found in Burgess's system. They say it was a benzodiazepine-type drug, like Xanax, which relaxes you. Police say at this point they believe the combination is what caused the accident.

Officers say they also found beer bottles in the car at the scene of the crash.

"Finding out, if this is the reason that this occurred, this is something she's going to have to live with," Milton officer, Corey Davis, told WSAZ.

Burgess's kids Skylor Cooper, 3, and Sarah Cooper, 1, died at the scene. Her other daughter, 7-year-old Madilyn, is recovering from injuries she suffered.

Police say Madilyn has a broken leg, broken clavicle and is extremely bruised, but is going to be alright "physically."

"Enough evidence has been found to justify the arrest warrants," Milton Police Chief Joe Parsons said in a news release.

Police say Burgess was headed east when she crossed the median and crashed into a truck hauling a camper. A tractor-trailer also was involved. Those drivers were not hurt.

The crash happened about 7 p.m. Friday in the Milton area, near the 30-mile marker.

Huntington Police continue to conduct a reconstruction of what Milton Police referred to as a "horrific crash."

Family members say Skylor and Sarah were their entire world and they are dealing with an unimaginable loss.

"For me, it's just pushed me to give me a drive more to make sure that our case is perfect, that the investigation is perfect, that we do everything we possibly can for little Skylor and Sarah and Madilyn and hopefully not only the family, but maybe we can find some closure in doing the best job that we possibly can," Davis said.



UPDATE 3/4/17 @ 6:30 p.m.
CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Milton Police have released the names in a crash that killed two toddlers in Cabell County on I-64 Friday night.

The crash happened around the 30 mile marker near Milton around 7 p.m.

According to Milton Police Chief Joe Parsons, Skylor Cooper, 3, and Sarah Cooper, 1, died when the car driven by their mother, Siera L. Burgess, 26, from Branchland, crossed the median for unknown reasons and hit an oncoming truck pulling a camper.

Police say Burgess' car then hit a tractor trailer before stopping.

“It’s surreal,” said Burgess’ friend Briana Keith. “It’s very surreal.”

Keith says the news of the crash has been hard for her to process.

“I spent last night praying and I just couldn't sleep,” said Keith. “I just wish that this hadn't have happened. Because I know how much her children mean to her.”

Burgess was seriously injured and is listed in critical condition at a Huntington hospital.

Burgess' seven-year-old child was also hurt in the crash and was taken to Cabell Huntington Hospital.

No one in the truck or tractor trailer were injured.

“I can’t think of anything worse,” said Keith. Keith says when she heard the news of the crash she tried to find out if the news was true, but regardless of who was involved she prayed for their safety.

“My takeaway is, and what I’m going to try to impart to her and her family is, that even in catastrophe we have to keep hope alive and we have to keep fighting and we have to find something positive out of even tragedy.”

Parsons says while the investigation is not complete, alcohol and drug impairment are being investigated as contributing factors in the crash.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest on this developing story.



UPDATE 3/4/17 @ 2:20 p.m.
CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Milton Police have released the names in a crash that killed two toddlers in Cabell County on I-64 Friday night.

According to Milton Police Chief Joe Parsons, Skylor Cooper, 3, and Sarah Cooper, 1, died when the car driven by their mother, Siera L. Burgess, 26, from Branchland, crossed the median for unknown reasons and hit an oncoming truck pulling a camper.

Police say Burgess' car then hit a tractor trailer before stopping.

Burgess was seriously injured and is listed in critical condition at a Huntington hospital.

Burgess' seven-year-old child was also hurt in the crash and was taken to Cabell Huntington Hospital.

No one in the truck or tractor trailer were injured.

Parsons says while the investigation is not complete, alcohol and drug impairment are being investigated as contributing factors in the crash.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest on this developing story.



UPDATE 3/3/17 @ 11:35 p.m.
CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- All lanes of Interstate 64 have reopened at the scene of a deadly crash near Milton.

Two toddlers, ages 3 and 1, were killed in the crash and their mother was critically injured.

Another child, a 7-year-old, was also injured but is in stable condition.

The crash involved a car that crossed the median into the westbound lanes and struck a truck hauling an RV. A tractor-trailer also was involved somehow.

The crash happened just after 7 p.m. Friday.

Ten different agencies are on the scene, including the Huntington Police Department Forensics Unit and an accident reconstruction team.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.

UPDATE 3/3/17 @ 11:35 p.m.
CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The eastbound lanes of Interstate 64 have reopened late Friday night at the scene of a deadly crash near Milton, our crew at the scene reports.

Two toddlers, ages 3 and 1, were killed in the crash and their mother was critically injured.

The crash involved a car that crossed the median into the westbound lanes and struck a truck hauling an RV. A tractor-trailer also was involved somehow.

The crash happened just after 7 p.m. Friday.

Ten different agencies are on the scene, including the Huntington Police Department Forensics Unit and an accident reconstruction team.

There's no word on when the westbound lanes will reopen.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 3/3/17 @ 9:40 p.m.
CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- More details have been released about an Interstate 64 crash that killed two toddlers and critically injured their mother.

Milton Police say a car was headed east when it crossed the median and went into the westbound lanes, crashing into a truck hauling an RV. After that initial crash, a semi was somehow involved, but police aren't exactly sure at this time.

The toddlers killed were ages 3 and 1.

A third child inside the car is in stable condition. The mother was flown to Cabell Huntington Hospital.

"Our heart goes out to them," Milton Police Chief Joe Parsons said. "One of my officers went to high school with the driver. The family is known. State police are handling notifying the family. It's a fluid situation. Nobody ever wants to see something like this happen."

Police say when they showed up that several witnesses and bystanders were trying to help the victims before EMS crews got there.

The crash happened just after 7 p.m. Friday in the Milton area.

Interstate 64 is expected to be closed for several hours.

Eastbound motorists are being detoured at Exit 28 at Milton, and westbound traffic is being diverted off Exit 34 in Hurricane.

Local residents are urged to use alternate routes.

Ten different agencies are on the scene, including the Huntington Police Department Forensics Unit and an accident reconstruction team.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest on this developing story.



ORIGINAL STORY 3/3/17 @ 7:51 p.m.
CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A crash on Interstate 64 has left two children dead and their mother injured Friday, according to the Cabell County Sheriff.

The crash happened on I-64 East near mile-marker 30, just after 7 p.m. Friday.

The road has been completely shut down, and is expected to remain closed several hours, West Virginia 511 reports.

Eastbound motorists are being detoured at Exit 28 at Milton, and westbound traffic is being diverted off Exit 34 in Hurricane.

Local residents are urged to use alternate routes.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest on this developing story.




 
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