"We had family in place that could make sure they got to the bus, they were picked up. So if I worked late, I didn’t have to worry about my child," she said.
Echols said her three children excelled in school. In fact, she had attended two awards ceremonies for two of her children days before deputies came knocking on her door.
"The very next day, May 18, I was arrested, and I sat in jail for over five hours. I had never seen the inside of a jail," said Echols.
But in closing statements, prosecutors said Echols signed legal documents seven times saying her family lived at addresses in the city when in fact the family did not.
"Ladies and gentlemen, a lie is a lie, and our law says when you lie to the government, you have committed a crime," said assistant district attorney Grady Moore.
Echols' defense attorney, however, called the 16 felony charges overkill. They asked jurors to send a message that prosecutors had gone too far.
"She wanted her children to get a good quality education in a situation where they would not be latch-key children, where they would not have to come home alone, where they would not have to have a baby sitter, where they would not have to have day care, where their family would be responsible and take care of them," said attorney Vic Reynolds.