PITTSBURGH (AP) _ The mother of a 3-year-old Pennsylvania girl found dead in a ravine two months ago was ordered to stand trial on charges she smothered the girl, likely by squeezing her after becoming angry about having to help the toddler clean herself after using the toilet, a judge ruled Friday.
Assistant Allegheny County District Attorney Kevin Chernosky said evidence shows Adriene Williams, 26, of Wilkinsburg, lied about her whereabouts on June 14, and that bits of watermelon and the girl’s DNA later found on Williams’ uniform work shirt strongly suggest she asphyxiated the girl.
The evidence is “consistent with someone squeezing the life and someone squeezing the last meal out of that child,” Chernosky argued.
District Judge David Barton agreed and ordered Williams to stand trial on charges of criminal homicide, evidence tampering and abuse of a corpse.
Raiford insisted afterward that Williams didn’t kill her daughter, Adrionna.
“She plead not guilty and she continues to plead not guilty,” Raiford said.
But Chernosky said Wlliams’ cellphone records and surveillance cameras show Williams lied when she said she drove toward work after dropping off the girl at her grandmother’s.
Williams told police she drove toward the Pittsburgh apartment complex where she was a security guard by using Interstate 376, then turned around when relatives called and told her Adrionna was missing.
But phone data shows Williams was near the area where her daughter was found, in Swissvale, miles away from Pittsburgh, during the crucial hour in question, Detective Michael Feeney testified.
Video surveillance _ including a camera from a residence about three blocks from where the girl’s body was found _ also shows Williams’ car driving to and from that dead end street and the nearby woods between 6:37 p.m. and 7:22 p.m. A dog walker found the girl’s body at about 8 p.m.
Williams had already returned home and joined other relatives searching for the girl by then. A few days later, she joined community members in a memorial walk, which Raiford said suggests she’s innocent.
But Chernosky said the barefoot girl _ whose feet weren’t dirty _ certainly didn’t walk about two miles to the site on an evening when rains turned the spot where she was found into a quagmire.
Detectives also found brightly colored paper clips near the girl’s body, similar to others later found in the backseat of Williams’ car, suggesting she hurriedly dumped the girl’s body, Chernosky said.
Raiford said Williams has been troubled by her daughter’s death, and has tried to commit suicide since her arrest July 7. He wouldn’t say whether he’d raise her mental state as a defense, but said the first time he spoke with her, she was in the county jail’s “mental health ward, in a straitjacket.”
Williams didn’t speak at the hearing and was returned to jail without bond.