Megan Huntsman, Utah woman accused of killing 6 babies, charged

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Megan Huntsman, Utah woman accused of killing 6 babies, charged
Megan Huntsman, accused of killing six of her babies and storing their bodies in her garage, appears in court Monday, April 28, 2014, in Provo, Utah. Prosecutors have filed six first-degree murder charges against Huntsman. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)
Megan Huntsman, accused of killing six of her babies and storing their bodies in her garage, appears in court Monday, April 21, 2014, in Provo, Utah. A state judge granted county prosecutors a week to sort through evidence and ensure they choose the proper charges. Huntsman is being held on $6 million bail. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)
Pleasant Grove Police investigate the scene where seven infant bodies were discovered and packaged in separate containers at a home in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Sunday, April 13, 2014. According to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, seven dead infants were found in the former home of Megan Huntsman, 39. Huntsman was booked into jail on six counts of murder. (APPhoto/Rick Bowmer)
This undated image originally released by the Utah Sex Offender Registry and obtained by The Associated Press from a public records database shows Darren West, the estranged husband of Megan Huntsman, the Utah woman accused of concealing seven pregnancies before strangling or suffocating her newborns. West discovered one of the infant corpses in the garage of the couple's former home in Pleasant Grove, Utah, on Saturday, April 12, 2014. Police say West told them in his initial interview that he knew nothing about the pregnancies, but investigators are still trying to determine his knowledge or involvement. (AP Photo)
Megan Huntsman, accused of killing six of her babies and storing their bodies in her garage, appears in court Monday, April 21, 2014, in Provo, Utah. A state judge granted county prosecutors a week to sort through evidence and ensure they choose the proper charges. Huntsman is being held on $6 million bail. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)
Megan Huntsman, accused of killing six of her babies and storing their bodies in her garage, appears in court Monday, April 28, 2014, in Provo, Utah. Prosecutors have filed six first-degree murder charges against Huntsman. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)
Megan Huntsman, accused of killing six of her babies and storing their bodies in her garage, appears in court Monday, April 21, 2014, in Provo, Utah. A state judge granted county prosecutors a week to sort through evidence and ensure they choose the proper charges. Huntsman is being held on $6 million bail. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)
Megan Huntsman, accused of killing six of her babies and storing their bodies in her garage, appears in court Monday, April 21, 2014, in Provo, Utah. A state judge granted county prosecutors a week to sort through evidence and ensure they choose the proper charges. Huntsman is being held on $6 million bail. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)
This photo provided by the Utah County jail shows Megan Huntsman, who was booked into the Utah County jail on suspicion of killing six of her newborn children over the past decade. Seven dead babies were found in a garage at a Pleasant Grove home where Huntsman lived up until 2011. (AP Photo/Utah County Jail) Courtesy Utah County Jail
This photo released by the Utah County Jail shows the mugshot of Megan Huntsman, who was booked into the Utah County jail on suspicion of killing six of her newborn children over the past decade. Seven dead babies were found in a garage at a Pleasant Grove home where Huntsman lived up until 2011.(AP Photo/Utah County Jail)
Unidentified person walks through the front yard of the house where seven infant bodies were discovered and packaged in separate containers at a home in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Monday, April 14, 2014. Authorities say a Utah woman accused of killing six babies that she gave birth to over 10 years told investigators that she either strangled or suffocated the children and then put them inside boxes in her garage. According to a probable cause statement released by police Monday, Megan Huntsman said that between 1996 and 2006, she gave birth to at least seven babies at her home and that all but one of them were born alive. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Pleasant Grove Police investigate the scene where seven infant bodies were discovered and packaged in separate containers at a home in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Sunday, April 13, 2014. According to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, seven dead infants were found in the former home of Megan Huntsman, 39. Huntsman was booked into jail on six counts of murder. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Pleasant Grove Police investigate the scene where seven infant bodies were discovered and packaged in separate containers at a home in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Sunday, April 13, 2014. According to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, seven dead infants were found in the former home of Megan Huntsman, 39. Huntsman was booked into jail on six counts of murder. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Pleasant Grove Police investigate the scene where seven infant bodies were discovered and packaged in separate containers at a home in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Sunday, April 13, 2014. According to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, seven dead infants were found in the former home of Megan Huntsman, 39. Huntsman was booked into jail on six counts of murder. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Pleasant Grove Police investigate the scene where seven infant bodies were discovered and packaged in separate containers at a home in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Sunday, April 13, 2014. According to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, seven dead infants were found in the former home of Megan Huntsman, 39. Huntsman was booked into jail on six counts of murder. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Pleasant Grove Police investigate the scene where seven infant bodies were discovered and packaged in separate containers at a home in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Sunday, April 13, 2014. According to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, seven dead infants were found in the former home of Megan Huntsman, 39. Huntsman was booked into jail on six counts of murder. (APPhoto/Rick Bowmer)
Pleasant Grove Police investigate the scene where seven infant bodies were discovered and packaged in separate containers at a home in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Sunday, April 13, 2014. According to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, seven dead infants were found in the former home of Megan Huntsman, 39. Huntsman was booked into jail on six counts of murder. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Pleasant Grove Police investigate the scene where seven infant bodies were discovered and packaged in separate containers at a home in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Sunday, April 13, 2014. According to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, seven dead infants were found in the former home of Megan Huntsman, 39. Huntsman was booked into jail on six counts of murder. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Pleasant Grove Police investigate the scene where seven infant bodies were discovered and packaged in separate containers at a home in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Sunday, April 13, 2014. According to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, seven dead infants were found in the former home of Megan Huntsman, 39. Huntsman was booked into jail on six counts of murder. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Pleasant Grove Police investigate the scene where seven infant bodies were discovered and packaged in separate containers at a home in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Sunday, April 13, 2014. According to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, seven dead infants were found in the former home of Megan Huntsman, 39. Huntsman was booked into jail on six counts of murder. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Pleasant Grove Police investigate the scene where seven infant bodies were discovered and packaged in separate containers at a home in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Sunday, April 13, 2014. According to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, seven dead infants were found in the former home of Megan Huntsman, 39. Huntsman was booked into jail on six counts of murder. (APPhoto/Rick Bowmer)
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By MICHELLE L. PRICE

PROVO, Utah (AP) -- A Utah woman was charged Monday with six counts of first-degree murder in the killing of her six babies over a decade, but she cannot face the death penalty if convicted, prosecutors said.

Defendant Megan Huntsman, 39, is accused of killing the babies between 1996 and 2006, before Utah law was changed in 2007 to make murder a capital offense if a victim was younger than 14, Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman said outside court after a hearing in the case.

Until the law was passed, killing a child was not considered one of the aggravating factors that can make someone eligible for the death penalty, he said.

Such factors also include the victim being a police officer, the killing occurring while another crime, such as rape, was committed, or if the defendant has already been convicted of another murder.

Authorities say Huntsman was the mother of the babies and they were awaiting DNA testing to confirm that along with the sex of the children. Their causes of death also remains uncertain.

The bodies of the infants were found on April 12 in boxes in Huntsman's garage in Pleasant Grove. A seventh infant found in the garage is believed to have been stillborn.

During her brief court appearance, Huntsman mostly kept her eyes focused on the ground as she was informed of the charges and her case was assigned to a judge.

Her wrists were shackled to her waist, and she was wearing baggy, orange jail pants and a green shirt.

Defense attorney Doug Thompson told reporters after court that he has spoken with Huntsman but did not want to provide details on her state of mind.

"She seems fine but I don't really want to get into any of that," he said.

Prosecutors filed six first-degree murder charges against Huntsman. Each carries a possible sentence of five years to life.

Buhman said a medical examiner has completed autopsies on the babies.

"We basically have an initial report so we have some information but not a lot yet," Buhman said, declining to provide further information.

Buhman said investigators will have to rely on reports from the medical examiner and a forensic anthropologist, along with Huntsman's statements to police, to determine the cause of death.

Huntsman's estranged husband, Darren West, discovered one of the infant corpses in the garage on April 12. Police responded and found a total of seven tiny bodies in cardboard boxes.

Police said Huntsman acknowledged that from 1996 to 2006, she strangled or suffocated six of the babies, put them in plastic bags and packed them inside boxes in the garage south of Salt Lake City.

Pleasant Grove Police Detective Dan Beckstrom said police were working to corroborate Huntsman's story.

Investigators believe West is the father of the babies. He lived with Huntsman during the decade the babies were killed and was in federal prison on drug charges from 2006 until January.

Buhman said West is not a suspect.

"He's been very cooperative. We've had at-length discussions with Mr. West," Buhman said.

Authorities have said they think they know Huntsman's motive but declined to reveal it.

Huntsman was being held on $6 million bail. She is due back in court on May 19, when her attorneys can decide if they want to request an evidence hearing.

Thompson said he and Huntsman's other public defenders may ask for more time to review the evidence against their client.

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