CHARLESTON -- A woman accused of causing the death of her son by leaving him unattended for all or part of three days received a court-appointed attorney Monday.

Savannah M. Weiss' request for an attorney was granted during her first court appearance on first-degree murder charges. Coles County Circuit Judge Brien O'Brien appointed county Public Defender Anthony Ortega to represent her.

Weiss, 22, is accused of leaving her 2-year-old son unattended at her Charleston residence from Dec. 1-3.

The boy was dead when emergency crews responded to the residence at 1052 First St. in Charleston on Dec. 4 after a report that the child was unresponsive, according to authorities.

Two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a bottle of vitamin water with a needle-sized hole in its cap were left in the crib during Weiss' absence, according to police accounts.

Police records in the case also say authorities found squalid conditions at the residence and two malnourished dogs were also located there and were removed. Debris including unsealed needles littered the residence's floor and old food and other debris were found in the crib with the boy's body, the records say.

In court Monday, O'Brien scheduled Weiss' next hearing for Monday of next week. The judge set that court appearance for Weiss' preliminary hearing.

That's the stage of a criminal case at which the prosecution presents some evidence, usually police testimony about the investigation. The judge then decides if there's sufficient reason for the case to continue.

O'Brien also said Ortega could make a request concerning Weiss' bond at the next hearing. Her bond is currently set at a level that would require $150,000 to be posted for release from jail.

The charges against Weiss accuse her of failing to provide food, water and sanitary conditions for the boy, leading to his death by dehydration or starvation. The charges allege that Weiss knew or should have known that created a "strong possibility" of death or great harm to the boy.

Authorities say an autopsy found that dehydration, starvation or a combination of the two caused the death of the boy, who's been identified in court records only by the initials "MJE."

Also according to authorities, the investigation revealed that Weiss left her residence around 10 a.m. on Dec. 1 and didn't return until 6 p.m. on Dec. 3.

The boy's grandmother, Mildred Moore, told police that she had notified the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services about the conditions at Weiss' residence, the records also say.

After the boy was dead, Moore said Weiss first resisted her urging to notify authorities and told Moore she was "gonna go to prison," according to the records.

Weiss could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.


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