A woman accused of slashing her 4-year-old daughter's throat in Bloomingdale earlier this month pleaded not guilty Monday to five counts of first-degree murder.
Marci Webber, 43, appeared to wipe tears from her eyes as she was arraigned in front of DuPage County Judge George Bakalis, who said she faces 20 to 60 years in prison if convicted.
Webber, of East Nassau, N.Y., has been in the county jail on $5 million bond since her daughter Magdalene was found slain Nov. 3 at a relative's townhouse in Bloomingdale, where they both had been staying for several weeks.
Prosecutors are seeking a psychiatric evaluation for Webber in anticipation of a possible insanity defense. But her attorneys are challenging the constitutionality of that request so soon after the child's death and before the defense has had its own doctor examine her.
"She has due process rights," said Tony Coco, a public defender. "They (prosecutors) don't."
Bloomingdale police were called to the 200 block of Amherst Drive after Webber's 18-year-old daughter found the victim in a bathtub with her throat cut, prosecutors said. According to court records, Webber also was in the bathroom with apparent self-inflicted injuries.
Prosecutors said Webber later told police she cut her daughter to prevent her from being abused and becoming a "sex slave." She said she gave the child pain medication and Benadryl beforehand, according to court records.
Authorities said the child died of a single neck laceration, which was so deep it nearly severed her head. On a wall nearby, the words "divine," "mercy" and "shrine" were found scrawled in what appeared to be blood, according to court records.
Webber, who returns to court Dec. 13, did not speak at Monday's court appearance other than to answer "yes" when asked if she understood the charges against her. She later turned to relatives seated in the courtroom and mouthed the words "I love you" as she was led to a holding cell.
The relatives declined to comment outside of court.
Assistant State's Attorney Alex McGimpsey said prosecutors have not decided whether they will seek the death penalty.