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Mother Charged with Killing 4 of Her Children Does Not Enter Plea, Hires Attorney

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Source: Michael Quander WREG/Facebook

A judge waived an arraignment for the Memphis woman who allegedly stabbed four of her young children to death on Tuesday.

Shanynthia Gardner did not enter a plea and “the case has been continued to July 11,” a court official confirms to PEOPLE.

ABC News reports attorney Craig Morton says he is representing 29-year-old Gardner. She is accused of slitting the throats of her four youngest children: 4-year-old Tallen Gardner; 3-year-old Sya Gardner; 2 year-old Sahvi Gardner; and 6-month old Yahzi Gardner, reports the Associated Press.

A 7-year-old child, Dallen Clayton, fled the apartment unharmed and is now reportedly in protective custody.

According to local Memphis newspaper The Commercial Appeal, Gardner, 29, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder associated with aggravated child abuse, four counts of first-degree murder in association with aggravated child neglect, and four more counts each of aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect or endangerment.

Gardner hung her head and didn’t respond to questions from Judge Loyce Lambert Ryan via video appearance from jail, Commercial Appeal reports.

The AP reports that an affidavit filed in Shelby County court by a sheriff’s detective states Shanynthia Gardner confessed to the deaths of her children while on the phone with her husband.

The outlet also reports finding another police document from March that stated Shanynthia Gardner went missing on March 19, just days after telling loved ones that she felt some someone was trying to hurt her and her family. Three days earlier, the outlet reports Gardner left work suddenly and picked up her kids. Garnder reportedly worked part-time for ALSAC, the fundraising arm of St. Jude Children s Research Hospital.

Investigators are looking into whether she has mental health problems, according to ABC News.

The grandmother of the sole surviving child, who Gardner had in a previous marriage, says she still “wholeheartedly” loves her former daughter-in-law.

“I forgive her,” Sonya Clayton told Commercial Appeal. “I know this was not her. I know this was the work of the devil. I love Shanynthia wholeheartedly still.”