Fayetteville, N.C. — Cumberland County's top prosecutor says that the recent death of a 4-year-old girl, allegedly at the hands of her mother, is "shocking and concerning."
"Even though I've been doing this a long time, any time you see where a natural mother has been charged with murdering a natural child, it's very shocking and concerning," District Attorney William West said Tuesday. "It's certainly a case this office takes very seriously."
Cumberland County authorities on Monday charged Jaime Leigh Gardner Morris, 36, of 4618 Elcone Drive, with first-degree murder and felony child abuse in the Nov. 5 death of Bella Marie Morris.
Investigators said the child lived with her grandparents and had been visiting her mother when she died.
A preliminary autopsy found Bella Morris died from asphyxiation.
Jaime Morris made a brief first appearance in court Tuesday, sometimes wiping her eyes, as the judge read the charges against her.
Her mother sat nearby, sobbing uncontrollably.
Jaime Morris, authorities said, attempted suicide after her daughter's death, but neither West nor investigators have commented further about the case.
A family friend also declined to comment.