SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A woman accused of trying to drown her 9-month-old daughter in the tub at her City Heights apartment pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of premeditated attempted murder and child abuse.
Whitney Holman, 22, remains in custody in lieu of $1 million bail.
Holman was charged last month but was not arraigned until today because defense attorney Pamela Lacher wanted to look into her client's mental health issues and a possible insanity defense before entering a plea to the charges.
On Tuesday, Lacher kept the mental health issues on hold and unsuccessfully urged Judge David Szumowski to lift a no-contact order so that Holman could see her child. Lacher argued that Holman was taking her medications and was much more lucid than at the time of the alleged crime.
At the hearing last month, Andrea Burnett-Davis, who told reporters she was a relative of the defendant, said a friend of Holman's called authorities two days before the young woman's arrest, saying Holman was having suicidal thoughts.
Police spoke to Holman but took no action, according to Burnett-Davis, who said Child Protective Services should have done something to help Holman with her mental health issues. She said Holman loved her baby.
"Many, many people are losing their children for all the wrong things, all the wrong reasons," Burnett-Davis said then. "And the people who are really out there needing the help are not getting the services. The system is crazy."
Christy Turner, Holman's maternal aunt, told reporters today that her family is not happy with Lacher as Holman's lawyer and would rather have a deputy public defender.
Turner said Burnett-Davis -- who hired Lacher -- is not related to her family.
It was Holman who called 911 on May 10. Officers found her baby -- named Journey -- unresponsive in a tub in her apartment. Paramedics rushed Journey to Rady Children's Hospital, where she was admitted in critical condition and put on a ventilator.
Within days, she was off the ventilator, relatives said. Her long-term health prospects are unclear.
Holman faces life in prison with the possibility of parole if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Michelle Ialeggio.
A status conference is scheduled for July 3.
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