• Mental evaluations next for Chesterfield mother charged with killing infant daughter

    By: Greg Suskin

    Updated:

    CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, S.C. - A judge has delayed a bond hearing and ordered a mental evaluation Wednesday for a woman accused of killing her 11-month-old daughter, then lying about it.

    [ALSO READ: Mother, 2 others charged after toddler shot in Chesterfield County home]

    Last May, deputies said Breanna Lewis killed Harlee Lewis and made up a story, saying a man in an SUV kidnapped the baby. 

    After an Amber Alert went out, deputies found the body of the child wrapped in a plastic bag inside a diaper box in the woods just a few hundred yards from her home on Daisy Lane. 


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    Channel 9's South Carolina bureau reporter Greg Suskin was in court when Lewis appeared before a judge for the very first time since her arrest more than seven months ago. 

    Lewis' attorney Jr Joyner, said that wasn't right.

    "It's unjust, and I think harmful. She needs to be out. She needs to assist in her defense," Joyner said.

    Lewis never changed her expression the entire time she stood in front of the judge, and a half dozen news cameras.

    [ALSO READ: Second arrest made after video of NC baby smoking marijuana goes viral]

    She's charged with homicide by child abuse, among other charges, including improperly disposing of her daughter's remains.

    Deputy Solicitor Kenard Redmond said in interviews with detectives that Lewis claimed she tried to perform CPR on Harlee.

    "She says she actually had the child in a playpen, and she came back into the room a short time later, and the child was not, Harlee was not breathing," Redmond said. "Then oddly, she says she blacked out during that time."

    The autopsy lists the little girl's cause of death as cerebral edema, or brain swelling and possible suffocation. 

    Joyner said in court, they don't believe that's what happened.

    "As it relates to the cause of death, we dispute that, and I think there's gonna be significant evidence to show otherwise," he said.

    [ALSO READ: Sheriff says mother accidentally smothered baby during fatal meth overdose]

    Judge Paul Burch said because of the "bizarre nature" of the case he would not consider bond for Lewis until she's had a mental health evaluation. Often, that request is made by the defense counsel, not the judge.  

    It's not clear when the evaluation would be finished.

    Prosecutors did not go into any details about how the alleged crime was committed or any statements Lewis may have made during the lengthy investigation.

    Last June, another judge placed a gag order on everyone involved in the case, and that order still stands.

    Due to a lack of available court time, Redmond said it's unlikely the case would go to trial until the second half of the year.   

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