New Jersey

Mother Charged With Killing New Jersey Toddler Doesn't Show for Court, Attorney Claims Postpartum Depression

Nakira Griner is charged with murder and other counts in the death of 23-month-old Daniel Griner Jr. The 24-year-old Bridgeton woman was a no-show for court Tuesday.

What to Know

  • Nakira Griner is charged with murder and other counts in the death of her 23-month-old son, Daniel Griner Jr.
  • Officials say the NJ woman first told authorities he had been kidnapped; the boy's burned body was later found in his mom's yard.
  • Griner's attorney claims that the Bridgeton woman is suffering from postpartum depression.

A New Jersey mother who police say told them she fatally struck her toddler son because he wouldn't "eat nor listen to her" will remain jailed until her murder trial.

A judge issued the ruling Tuesday during a court hearing that Nakira Griner was due to attend. But her attorney, Kim Schultz, said that appearing at the hearing would have been detrimental to Griner's health because she's suffering from a severe form of postpartum depression and is on suicide watch.

The 24-year-old Bridgeton woman is charged in the death of 23-month-old Daniel Griner Jr.

Schultz called the boy's death a "terrible accident" and called for a mental evaluation for Griner.

Cumberland County prosecutors have said Griner initially reported that her son had been abducted on Feb. 8 and an intensive search was launched by law enforcement. But the child's burned and dismembered remains were found the next day, buried under a shed in the yard of Griner's home.

Surveillance video shows Griner walking around the night of the boy's death with an empty stroller, assistant prosecutor Elizabeth Vogelsong said in court Tuesday. When investigators went to Griner's home, they found all the windows open and fans going despite freezing cold temperatures outside. The home smelled of something burnt, Vogelsong said.

Missing was Griner's pink pocketbook, which investigators later discovered contained some of Daniel's burnt ashes, prosecutors said.

Griner told police she hit the boy because he wouldn't "eat nor listen to her," according a the criminal complaint.

The complaint said Griner admitted striking the child so hard that she left bruises on his face and also said he fell down a flight of stairs. After striking the child, she didn't call for help, but placed him in a stroller and left him alone.

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Griner told police responding to the abduction report that a stranger had attacked her while she was walking with her toddler in a stroller and her infant son strapped to her chest, according to the complaint. She said her assailant kicked her and she fell to the ground as the attacker continued to kick her in the head and right side.

When she looked up, the stroller and Daniel were gone, she told police. Officers soon found the stroller, containing only a pair of red sneakers, a few blocks away. Griner's story began to change during subsequent interviews with police, authorities said.

The judge called for Griner to be detained as there is sufficient evidence of probable cause. Griner faces life in prison.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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