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Lawyer: Mother of missing baby not guilty of abuse

January 13, 2014

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The lawyer for a Memphis woman whose 7-week-old daughter has been missing for five days said Monday that abuse and neglect charges against her should be dropped, but he is also preparing for the possibility that charges could be upgraded to homicide.

Andrea Walker, 33, wore an orange jail jumpsuit during a brief court appearance Monday in General Sessions Court. She has been charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect in the disappearance of her daughter, Aniston Walker, who was reported missing Thursday.

Police said Walker told them she left the baby at home with her 3-year-old son while she took her 5-year-old son to school Thursday. When she returned home, the baby was gone, but the 3-year-old was still there, she said.

Walker said there was no sign of a break-in and only two other people had keys to the house, according to an arrest affidavit. She said she called the baby’s father, who reported her missing.

Police used cadaver dogs to scour homes, backyards and a pond in the northeast Memphis neighborhood where Walker lived with her three children. Police suspended the search Saturday after three days of looking.

Police charged Walker after interviewing her, saying in the affidavit the baby may have suffered “serious bodily injury.” Walker has not been as cooperative as investigators would like, and she is a suspect in the disappearance, Police Director Toney Armstrong said.

Defense attorney Leslie Ballin filed a motion Monday asking for dismissal of the current charges. Ballin said the affidavit does not have enough facts to support the charges, and Walker is not guilty.

“There is an assumption ... that she is responsible for seriously bodily injury on this child,” Ballin told reporters outside the courtroom. “Where is the proof?”

The motion also asks for bond to be reduced from $500,000 to $25,000. Walker is an employee of the Internal Revenue Service who is neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community, the motion said.

Judge William C. Turner set a Jan. 21 hearing on the motion. Ballin said an additional homicide-related charge could be filed against Walker.

“Do not rush to judgment,” Ballin he said.

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