An Iowa woman charged with fatally stabbing her ex-husband pleaded not guilty Tuesday, PEOPLE confirms.
Hillary Hunziker, 32, of Independence, was arrested Nov. 6 and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jason Hunziker, 39, the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office says in a statement.
After allegedly admitting to “sneaking” into Jason’s home in the middle of the night and stabbing him, a child believed to be their 9-year-old son called 911 in the early morning hours of Nov. 6 and said, “My mom just stabbed my dad,” according to the criminal complaint obtained by PEOPLE.
Hillary Hunziker appeared in Buchanan County Court Tuesday and entered the not guilty plea.
Her trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 10. She remains in jail on a $1 million bond.
Investigators have not yet said what they believe led Hillary to allegedly stab her ex-husband.
But prosecutors, at a court hearing after the stabbing, said Hillary had been involved in a years-long child custody battle with Jason following their 2011 divorce, in which Hillary did not receive custody of their son, The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports.
Buchanan County Attorney Shawn Harden said that after the stabbing, Hillary planned to flee the state with their son, according to the Courier.
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On the night of the stabbing, the first of two 911 calls came in at 4:34 a.m. when a child believed to be the boy called 911 saying his mother had just stabbed his father, according to the complaint.
Before first responders arrived, Jason called 911 himself and said, “My wife just stabbed me and took my child.”
Sheriff’s deputies who arrived at Jason’s home in Independence found him dead in a bedroom with “large lacerations” to his left arm and left calf, the complaint says.
Police: Woman Allegedly ‘Planned Out This Event’
Hillary and the child believed to have called 911 were found a short time later at a family member’s residence in Robins, where she once lived, according to the statement, which adds that she and the boy were covered in blood.
According to the complaint, she had a knife on her person.
During this time, Hillary allegedly “admitted she stabbed Mr. Hunziker,” the complaint says.
She allegedly told police she had additional razor blades and knives on her person and in her vehicle, where blood was found on the exterior and interior, the complaint says.
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During the ambulance ride to the hospital to treat a cut to her hand, Hillary allegedly told emergency personnel that “she planned out this event” by purchasing a knife at Walmart, the complaint says.
She allegedly told them she wore “special black boots that were quiet” and admitted to “sneaking into Mr. Hunziker’s unlocked house after parking down the road from his residence to avoid detection,” the complaint says.
Investigators later learned that on Nov. 5, the night before the alleged stabbing, Hillary gave her mother specific instructions on where to take her child in case something happened to her or his father, the complaint says.
Shortly before 6 a.m., Hillary contacted her mother and allegedly told her that “she had done it,” and that her mother needed to take the child to the location she had specified the night before, the documents state.
When her mother asked her what she had done, Hillary simply responded, “artery,” the complaint alleges.
If convicted, she faces mandatory life in prison without parole.
The child “is safe and has been placed with other family members,” the sheriff says in the statement.
But Hillary has been barred from contacting her son because of a no-contact order the district attorney requested at the Nov. 7 hearing.
“There was a child of the defendant and victim’s present at the location where the murder occurred,” Harden said, the Courier reports. “He witnessed the events that led to the victim’s death. We feel that he’s just as much a victim in this case as the individual that died.”
Calls for comment to the district attorney and to Hillary’s public defender were not immediately returned.