ASTORIA, Oregon (KGW) – An Oregon mother accused of drowning her infant before cutting the wrists and throat of her teenage daughter smiled and appeared to wink at the judge during a Tuesday hearing.
Jessica Smith pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder.
Authorities have said Smith checked into the Surf Sand Resort in Cannon Beach on July 29 under her own name with her two daughters in tow. Three days later, a cleaning crew found the drowned body of the 2-year-old girl. The still-breathing teenager was covered in blood with her throat cut.
According to the affidavit, Smith gave her teenage daughter a double dose of a sleeping agent, then used a numbing compound on her neck before her throat was slashed.
Smith considered cutting the toddler’s throat, her 13-year-old daughter told an Oregon State Police detective, but chose to drown the child instead.
The state medical examiner, Dr. Karen Gunson, told The Oregonian that the 2-year-old had been heavily sedated with an over-the-counter antihistamine.
Gunson told the newspaper that asphyxiation by drowning was the main cause of the 2-year-old’s death and the drug was a “contributing cause.”
The teen was identified in the affidavit but her name is being withheld by The Associated Press because of her age.
Prosecutors have declined to provide further details on the attacks.
In court Tuesday, Smith’s attorney William David Falls said the case is complex and he would need time to prepare for several possible defenses, including one based on Smith’s mental health.
Documents indicate that Smith was attempting to prevent their father from gaining custody of the girls.