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Washington state mother charged in newborn decapitation

By Laura L. Myers

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A 25-year-old woman accused of decapitating her live, prematurely born infant son with a kitchen knife faced first-degree murder charges on Thursday during an initial court appearance in western Washington state.

Laura Lynn Hickey of Centralia, who had three previous children removed from her custody by the state, appeared before Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey in the town of Chehalis, about 90 miles south of Seattle, and was ordered held on $1 million bail.

Centralia Police Department spokesman John Panco said investigators determined that Hickey's infant son was alive when born at home about 19 weeks premature but suffered "fatal injuries that were intentionally inflicted."

Panco told Reuters the newborn was decapitated with a knife "commonly used in the kitchen."

Paramedics were called to Hickey's residence after neighbors heard her cry out for help in the early morning hours of March 2. Hickey was taken to Centralia Providence Hospital, where she told doctors that she had suffered a miscarriage.

"When questioned by emergency room staff, Hickey admitted to giving birth and that the child was under the sink in her kitchen," Panco said. The body was later found in a plastic Tupperware container by paramedics who returned to the home.

Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod said "toxicology and microscopic studies" from the autopsy remained incomplete. Typically, those laboratory results take six to eight weeks, he said on Thursday.

Police arrested Hickey on Wednesday. She was held in the Lewis County Jail without bond in Chehalis.

Hickey, believed by police to be unmarried, is the mother of three other children who were removed by the state's child welfare agency about a year ago, Panco said.

No plea was entered. Hickey was ordered to return to court March 17 for a plea hearing, and had an attorney appointed for her.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Jerry Norton)