July 5, 2013

Maine mother pleads not guilty to murdering 2-year-old

By DOUG HARLOW Morning Sentinel

BANGOR — The lawyer for an Auburn woman who is charged with murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter said Friday that the woman has not adjusted well to the transition from a hospital bed to a jail cell.

Leanna Norris, 24, pleaded not guilty Friday to a murder charge in the death of Loh Grenda, who turned 2 in February.

"She is very upset," said her attorney, Martha Harris, outside the Penobscot County Judicial Center. "She was taken from her treatment facility into jail. She just went to jail on Wednesday."

Harris would not say what Norris was being treated for, and police have said only that she was treated at a medical facility in Rockport.

Harris said it is still uncertain how the child died. The girl was found dead in her mother's car last month in the Penobscot County town of Stetson.

No further details about the case were contained in an indictment document filed with the court.

Andrew Benson, an assistant attorney general who is prosecuting Norris, said he expects Harris to file a motion for a mental examination of Norris.

He would not say whether police had a search warrant for Norris' car, whether police had permission to enter the vehicle or how officers were alerted to the car.

Norris, who entered the courtroom Friday dressed in a lime-green-and-black concert T-shirt, faded jeans and orange sneakers, was ordered held without bail pending her next court hearing.

Loh Grenda was declared dead after police responded to a call from her grandparents' home on Mount Pleasant Road in Stetson about 3 a.m. on June 24.

Police said they think the girl may have died hours earlier, late at night on June 23, in neighboring Newport.

The Medical Examiner's Office has not yet determined how the child died, but has said it was a homicide.

The toddler's father, Michael Grenda of Auburn, could not be reached for comment Friday. His mother, Patti Grenda, declined to speak to a reporter when contacted by phone Friday.

Norris was arrested Wednesday by Maine State Police detectives, following an indictment by a Penobscot County grand jury.

In a statement released June 25, police said Norris was hospitalized after Loh Grenda's death.

Harris, who was appointed by the court Friday to represent Norris, said she hopes that Norris' treatment will continue in jail, where she is being held without bail pending a hearing within the next 90 days.

Doug Harlow can be contacted at 612-2367 or at:



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