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Woman accused in babies' deaths appears in court

Published: Monday, April 21, 2014 1:43 p.m. CDT
Caption
(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.

PROVO, Utah — Prosecutors have been granted more time to determine what charges to file against a Utah woman accused of killing six of her babies and storing their bodies in her garage.

Megan Huntsman, 39, was in court Monday wearing a baggy prison jumpsuit, her hands and ankles shackled. She mostly stared at the ground as prosecutors asked the judge for two weeks to sort through evidence and ensure they choose the proper charges.

A state judge in Provo granted them a week after Huntsman's newly appointed attorney objected to two weeks.

Huntsman is being held on $6 million bail.

Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman said outside court that Huntsman remains the only suspect.

Pleasant Grove Police Detective Dan Beckstrom noted authorities are awaiting results from autopsies completed last week by the state medical examiner.

Investigators hope DNA will reveal the sex of the babies and who their parents are, though that could take months.

"There's a lot more work to do on those autopsies, and when we get that information, we'll be ready to file," Beckstrom said.

Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman said authorities still will have questions, but the extra week will give his office more time to make a careful, calculated decision on charges.

"We want to make sure we don't file erroneously," Buhman said. "The closer we can get to the truth of what happened, the better decisions we can make."

Huntsman's estranged husband, Darren West, discovered one of the infant corpses in the garage of their Pleasant Grove home on April 12. Police then 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 of her home south of Salt Lake City. She told police a seventh baby was stillborn.

Investigators believe West is the father of the babies, though they are waiting on DNA results to confirm that, Buhman said. West lived with Huntsman during the decade she says this happened, but he was in federal prison on drug charges from 2006 until January.

Prosecutors said they hope to soon meet again with West, who Buhman said has been cooperative and is not considered a suspect. After an initial interview, West obtained an attorney and has not met with investigators again.

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

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