PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A woman going through a divorce and custody battle is accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter and severely cutting her teenage daughter at a popular inn on the northern Oregon coast, a crime that shocked tourists and residents.
Jessica Smith, 40, of Goldendale, Washington, was ordered held without bail Monday during her first court hearing, in which she appeared via a video feed from jail.
Her lawyer, William Falls, declined to comment, except to say the case would be tried in the courtroom, not the media.
Authorities began looking for Smith on Friday after a housekeeper at the Surfsand Resort in Cannon Beach found the body of Smith's 2-year-old daughter in a room. The other daughter, age 13, was badly cut and taken to a Portland hospital for surgery, police said. She's expected to recover.
On Sunday, a Coast Guard helicopter spotted an SUV driven by Smith in the woods east of Cannon Beach, and authorities soon took her into custody.
The mother had been under a court order to turn over the children to their father, Greg Smith, at 5 p.m. Friday, the day the girls were found in the hotel room, The Oregonian reported.
An autopsy concluded the toddler's death was a homicide, although it didn't determine the precise cause. Investigators were awaiting toxicology reports.
Smith faces charges of aggravated murder, which could lead to the death penalty, and attempted aggravated murder.
At the hearing Monday, she sat at a table, said nothing and frequently looked down. She did not enter a plea, and her next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 12.
Smith checked into the Cannon Beach lodging Wednesday.
She and Greg Smith separated in April after 17 years of marriage, according to news reports. Greg Smith filed for divorce in June and sought shared custody of the children.
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