yakima county jail standing

FILE — The Yakima County jail.

A Yakima woman accused of killing her 4-year-old stepson Wednesday will remain in jail.

Yakima County Superior Court Judge Richard Bartheld ordered the 25-year-old woman held in lieu of $750,000 bail during a preliminary appearance hearing in the jail’s courtroom Friday.

She was arrested Thursday on suspicion of second-degree murder and second-degree assault in connection with the child’s death. Yakima police allege she strangled the boy with her hands.

The Yakima Herald-Republic typically does not name suspects in criminal cases until they are formally charged.

Police were called to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital late Wednesday night after the woman brought the unresponsive child to the emergency room, where hospital staff performed CPR for a half-hour before pronouncing him dead, according to a police probable cause affidavit.

Hospital staff told police that the child showed signs of abuse, and police saw bruises on his legs, arms, back, neck and cheek, the affidavit said. Officers also saw signs that the boy had been strangled, the affidavit said.

Two other children, whom the woman brought with her to the hospital, were taken into protective custody by state Child Protective Services, police said.

The boy’s father, who was at work at the time of the incident, is not considered a suspect, police said.

An autopsy will be performed at the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, Chief Yakima County Deputy Coroner Marshall Slight said earlier.

During Friday’s hearing, Deputy Yakima Prosecuting Attorney Heather Thorn sought $1 million bail, which is typical in homicide cases. While the woman has no prior criminal history, Thorn said a high bail is warranted based on the age of the victim, the brutality of the crime and the risk to the other children.

Defense attorney Paul Kelley argued for a “significantly lower amount.” Kelley said she was raised in Selah and has family in the area, reducing the flight risk, and that she does not have any prior convictions.

Other cases where a $1 million bail was applied involved people who had prior criminal records and demonstrated a pattern of violent behavior, Kelley argued, factors that are lacking here. He said bail should be based on the individual and not their crime.

Bartheld set bail at $750,000 and issued a no-contact order that barred the woman from having contact with the other children. He said both issues could be argued later in court proceedings.

The boy’s death is the second homicide in the county and the city this year, and the second homicide this week. Clayton Peter Brown Jr., 38, was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head at the Yakima Inn Tuesday night.

Reach Donald W. Meyers at dmeyers@yakimaherald.com.

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