Two psychiatric evaluations ordered for mother of children found in freezer
A not-guilty plea was entered Thursday morning for the mother accused of murdering her two children and keeping their bodies in a freezer.
Mitchell Blair, 35, was arraigned Thursday on updated charges during a probable cause hearing. The new charges include two counts each of felony murder, premeditated murder and torture.
The murder charges carry mandatory life in prison upon conviction. Her attorney, Wyatt Harris, declined to comment Wednesday. Blair is jailed on a $1 million bond.
Blair was arraigned last week on five counts of first-degree child abuse, but amended charges were expected after the Wayne County medical examiner's office classified the deaths of Stoni Ann Blair and Stephen Gage Berry as homicides. The office said both died from multiple blows and that Stephen also had "thermal injuries."
Court officers who were carrying out an eviction March 24 found the frozen corpses in a deep freezer at the home in the Martin Luther King Apartments.
Investigators believe due to a confession from Blair that Stephen was 9 when he died in August 2012 and that Stoni was 13 when she died the following May.
Now, Blair's attorney want to waive her Miranda rights, which would essentially wipe away that confession pending a psychiatric exam. The court is already planning a competency exam; the attorney wants an additional one.
"Competency to waive Miranda [rights]. She made a statement; we want her evaluated for that. Competency to stand trial and criminal responsibility," says attorney Wyatt Harris. "There are times when she can communicate in a very effective manner, and there are times when she can't."
The judge was reluctant but granted that. Now, independent psychiatrist Dr. Gerald Shiner will get a chance to do a second psychiatric exam. The other competency exam will be conducted by the state.
"She loves her children very much. She has indicated that to me, and I'm sure that she wants to see her children," says Harris.
"Does she know that she can't?" asked FOX 2's Roop Raj in response.
"I don't know that that's totally been decided yet," said Harris.
Blair has two other children. They were also a conversation topic during her arraignment, and the defense attorney asked for video of those children being interviewed by a psychiatrist. That request was granted.
A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for June 19.