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Fargo mom who planned to kill kids gets probation

A Fargo mother who told police she planned to kill herself and her three children by running a car in a closed garage was sentenced to probation Tuesday in Cass County District Court.

Virginia Mara Adams, 25, pleaded guilty to three counts of child abuse or neglect, a Class C felony, in connection with the May 9 incident in south Fargo. Two charges were reduced from Class B felonies.

Judge Douglas Herman, following a joint recommendation from attorneys on both sides, sentenced Adams to three suspended one-year prison terms and three years of supervised probation.

Prosecutor Leah Viste said the car wasn't running when police found Adams and the children - ages 6, 4 and 3 - inside the garage, though there was evidence that it may have been running, she said.

"She immediately took responsibility and immediately sought help for what was going on in her life," said Viste, an assistant Cass County state's attorney.

Viste said Adams believed she was acting not to harm the children but to relieve them and herself from what she felt were "overwhelming circumstances beyond her control."

Defense attorney Patrick O'Day said Adams completed a six-month inpatient treatment program and continues to get help.

"I'm just happy with the way things went (Tuesday) and going to keep doing good like I've been," Adams said by phone after the hearing.

Her children are in the care of an American Indian tribe in South Dakota, and the tribal court will determine custody, officials said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528