The mother of two children who were living periodically in a 5-by-10-foot unit at a central New Jersey storage facility has been sentenced to probation.
Sheena Johnson apologized at her sentencing Friday.
Authorities say Johnson pleaded guilty in January to child abuse and contempt charges as part of a plea deal that calls for her to serve four years of probation. She initially was charged with child endangerment after her sons, then ages 5 and 10, were found last April.
Officers checked the facility after Johnson was arrested for slashing her ex-boyfriend's tires, an act she says occurred because he refused to drive her sons to school. The dispute eventually led police to the facility in Ewing, where the boys were found in good health.
Johnson said her desperate financial situation and lack of a family support system led her to use the climate-controlled unit as a shelter. Moved by her plight, community members rallied around Johnson. They helped her post bail and held a fundraiser for her family at a Trenton restaurant.
Prosecutors say they received numerous calls on Johnson's behalf, and said they agreed to the plea deal because they didn't feel it was right to jail Johnson "when she's taking the right steps" to improve her life.
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The Times of Trenton reports Johnson thanked the judge for giving her a second chance.
Johnson's children remain in foster care. She gets supervised visits with them and says she plans to regain custody as soon as possible.