By Dave Andrusko
Following an arraignment hearing Monday for Megan Huntsman, charged with six counts of first-degree felony murder in the deaths of six newborn babies, prosecutors told reporters than she did not enter a plea because of ongoing negotiations.
As NRL News Today reported last month, according to police, the deaths occurred between January 1, 1996 and December 31, 2006. How Huntsman kept the murders of all these children a secret remains a mystery, but their deaths came to light in April 2014 when Darren West, her estranged husband, went to their Pleasant Grove, Utah, home to retrieve some belongings.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, West
found the remains of a baby wrapped in plastic bags and a green towel and stuffed into a white box, sealed with electrical tape. Alerted to the grisly discovery, police later found six more infant corpses similarly stored inside other boxes.
It was subsequently determined that the seventh baby was stillborn; that West was the father of all the babies; and that he would not be charged. (He said he knew nothing.)
West and Huntsman have three living daughters, ages 13 to 20.
At Monday’s arraignment, Jenn Foresta, one of Huntsman’s attorneys, asked Judge Darold McDade for more time for attorneys. According to Kurt Hanson of the Daily Herald
“We’ve been working diligently in this matter,” Foresta said.
McDade granted a continuance of two weeks, until Feb. 9.
“It can be resolved at that time,” McDade said.
Jessica Miller of the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Deputy Utah County Attorney Jared Perkins expanded on the situation after the arraignment. “We’re not ready to set trial and we’re not ready for a plea yet.” Perkins said that “plea negotiations have been ‘pretty smooth,’ but attorneys wanted to give Huntsman more time to consider her options before resolving the case.”
Huntsman does not face the death penalty. “Instead, she faces a maximum penalty for each count of five years to life in prison,” Miller reported.
A possible motive was first publicly discussed in July—heavy use of methamphetamines. Miller wrote
Pleasant Grove police Capt. Michael Roberts said in July that Huntsman told authorities she was using meth during the period when she allegedly smothered or strangled the infants and also was drinking during part of that time. The cost of feeding her addiction factored into the killings, Roberts said, adding that Huntsman alluded to a choice she was facing.
“She had to make a decision between the drugs and the babies,” Roberts has said.
Huntsman is being held at the Utah County jail in lieu of $6 million cash-only.