Judge to Rule Whether Illinois Mom Previously Convicted of Watching 3 Kids Drown Abused Her New Family

Amanda Ware spent five years in prison after being convicted of child endangerment

Photo: David Proeber/The Pantagraph/AP

An Illinois mother convicted of child endangerment for watching her three children drown in 2003 is now fighting to regain custody of three other children she’s had since leaving prison.

Amanda Ware, formerly known as Amanda Hamm, spent five years in prison for watching her boyfriend carry out a plot to drown her 6-year-old, 3-year-old and 23-month-old children because they got in the way of their relationship, the Associated Press reports. (The boyfriend was convicted of first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence.)

After she got out of prison, Amanda married Leo Ware and had three children with him. (The couple met in a halfway house, The Chicago Tribune reports.) But last year, their children were taken away from them after a doctor recognized Amanda and contacted child welfare workers.

A judge will decide Friday whether the children – now ages 5, 3 and 1½ – were abused and neglected, despite there being no physical evidence of abuse.

“We raised my kids for three years before they decided it was a problem,” Leo told the AP.

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But prosecutors have said that there is evidence of abuse in the home. In 2012, police responded to a call that Leo had struck his wife. And in 2013, Amanda got an order of protection against Leo because he was allegedly using crack cocaine.

Leo, however, insists those days are behind him, adding that he and Amanda deserve a second chance to have a family. “We all make bad decisions in life,” he said. “This is about moving on.”

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