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No bail for Alabama woman accused of child murder

MOBILE, Alabama (Reuters) - An Alabama court on Monday denied bail to a woman accused of torturing and murdering her stepchildren.

Bail for Heather Leavell-Keaton, 22, was set at $206,000 when she was charged initially with two counts each of aggravated child abuse and abuse of a corpse in the deaths of Natalie and Chase DeBlase.

Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. upgraded her charges to two counts of capital murder on Friday after receiving new information following Leavell-Keaton's preliminary hearing before a district judge. On Monday, her bond was denied.

The body of 3-year-old Chase DeBlase, believed to have died on June 20, was found on December 8 in Vancleave, Mississippi. The remains of four-year-old Natalie DeBlase were found days later in Citronelle, Alabama just north of Mobile. The older child is believed to have died in March.

The children's father, 27-year-old John DeBlase, is charged with two counts each of felony murder and abuse of a corpse. He remains jailed with bail set at $506,000 bail.

McKnight ruled Friday there is probably cause to send the case before a grand jury.

During Friday's preliminary hearing, police recounted conflicting testimony that painted each defendant, in turn, responsible for the murders, but only Leavell-Keaton's charges have been amended.

During the hearing, investigators testified Leavell-Keaton claimed DeBlase poisoned the children, while DeBlase claimed they died from abuse suffered at Leavell-Keaton's hands.

(Reporting by Kelli Dugan, editing by Matthew Bigg)