An Arizona woman pleaded guilty this week to second-degree murder and child abuse in connection with the deaths of her two children who were found dead in a car while strapped into their car seats.
Brittany Velasquez, 22, accepted a plea agreement with prosecutors a month before her scheduled mid-December trial.
Velasquez is set to be sentenced Feb. 10.
“She agreed to a stipulated term of 20 years flat followed by lifetime probation,” Pinal Deputy County Attorney Shawn Jensvold tells PEOPLE. “She won’t be eligible for early release.”
Velasquez’s son, 2, and her 10-month-old daughter were found dead March 26, 2018, in a car outside their Superior, Arizona, home. The coroner’s office ruled the children died from exposure.
Velasquez had been investigated by the Arizona Department of Child Safety twice for alleged neglect, and local police visited the house multiple times over the years, sometimes after calls from a concerned relative, ACB15 reported.
On Jan. 1, 2018, a relative of Velasquez’s called police alleging she had stolen a fur coat, according to a police records obtained by USA Today. While speaking to police, the relative alleged that Velasquez kept disappearing for days at a time and leaving her kids with family.
In a statement to PEOPLE, the DCS confirmed that they received two reports of alleged neglect but found no evidence of abuse. The first call came in October 2016, when the department received a report alleging that Velasquez would leave her son home with her mother for long periods of time.
“The child was seen on multiple occasions during the investigation. The DCS investigator concluded there were no indications the child was being abused or neglected and there were no legal grounds to remove the child,” the statement says.
The case was eventually closed after local authorities visited the children’s grandmother’s home and found no evidence a child had been harmed.
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On Jan. 5, a second neglect report was called into DCS alleging Velasquez had left her two children with her mother again. Through their investigation, DCS learned that while Velasquez worked, her mother took care of the children at her home.
DCS searched Velasquez’s apartment, enrolled her in a home visitation program, signed the children up for daycare at no extra cost and determined that there were no signs of abuse or neglect, according to the statement.
Family members previously told local media Velasquez was mentally unstable.
In an interview with FOX10, Velasquez’s brother, Vincent, alleged his sister had been suffering from mental illness since she was young. Calling her “deranged,” Vincent told the station she allegedly refused to get help.
“We tried,” Vincent told FOX10. “We begged CPS to take the kids. We begged the cops. Nothing would happen. Only thing we can do. We can’t kidnap the kids. My grandparents let them stay in the house. Other than that, that’s all we can do, know they are in a home, being fed.”
In their statement, DCS said: “While there were concerns raised regarding Ms. Velasquez’s previous mental health, no evidence was presented by anyone that indicated mental health issues were impeding Ms. Velasquez’s ability to parent.”