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



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.

---


Raw: Woman Accused in Babies' Deaths in Court

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southrenpride187 April 28 2014 at 4:30 PM

any women that hurt a child should be fixed

Flag Reply +7 rate up
roblesolarte April 28 2014 at 3:29 PM

She is crazy.....

Flag Reply +4 rate up
wtrfrd April 28 2014 at 3:26 PM

Deranged. Crazed, insane, demented, unbalanced, and unhinged are all synonyms for deranged.
Regardless this crime is so heinous she should get life...HOWEVER.... under most courts any defense attorney who can not get her off on an insanity plea would be incompetent. The GOOD news....Three states -- Montana, Idaho, and Utah -- do not allow the insanity defense. Defendants must still be found competent to stand trial, and they may introduce evidence of a mental disease or defect as evidence that they did not possess the requisite intent or state of mind (mens rea) to be found guilty. Regardless she needs to be institutionalized for life.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
coyotedav April 28 2014 at 5:46 PM

lost for words. prayers!!

Flag Reply +6 rate up
raisingkanes5 April 28 2014 at 9:25 PM

How about ADOPTION? BIRTH CONTROL? ABORTION? All are better options than killing a baby after it is born.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
Carol April 28 2014 at 6:45 PM

There's enough misery to go around on this one. Insanity and/or fear must be at the core of this story. When we hear all of it, it may at least have some semblance of reason (to her) Waiting for details. Bless the babies who have moved on to higher ground...much higher!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
rlpl02 April 29 2014 at 6:37 AM

Mental illness--she didn't try to get rid of the bodies, but kept them.
Odd that her husband, when not in jail, lived there and never noticed she was pregnant, or any oddness in the garage. Odd he find them now. She must have kicked him out and he told on her.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
john April 28 2014 at 6:54 PM

where is HER family ?

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
Christopher john April 28 2014 at 7:36 PM

now dead

Flag Reply +1 rate up
sam April 28 2014 at 3:14 PM

I'm inclined to agree with some of the others postings on here in so much as to say there is most likely MUCH more to this story.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
umatyly37 April 28 2014 at 7:03 PM

Truth stranger than fiction....
What a horrible truth!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
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