Toddler died from 'asphyxia by drowning'; mom pleads not guilty

ASTORIA, Ore. -- A woman accused of killing her toddler daughter before trying to slit her teenage daughter's throat has pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder.

Jessica Smith appeared by video in Clatsop County Circuit Court in Oregon on Tuesday.

She smiled throughout the hearing. When asked whether she understood that she would not be released before a Sept. 30 court date, she winked.

The toxicology report released Tuesday revealed that the 2-year-old who Smith is charged with killing died from asphyxia by drowning and the toddler was found with an "unusually high level" of an over the counter drug, similar to a cold medicine, that could act like a sedative, according to the district attorney.

Police say the 40-year-old from Washington state drove her children to a resort in Cannon Beach, Oregon, before her husband prepared to seek custody of the children.

Smith checked in July 30, and a cleaning crew found the infant's body and the injured teenager Aug. 1.

Notes left by Smith recounted the attack and said the "baby didn't suffer as she fell asleep in the water," according to an arrest warrant affidavit unsealed Tuesday.

According to the affidavit, Smith gave her teenage daughter a double dose of a sleeping agent, then used a numbing compound on her neck before her throat was slashed.

Smith considered cutting the toddler's throat, her 13-year-old daughter told an Oregon State Police detective, but chose to drown the child instead.

According to court documents, Smith admitted to police that she drowned her 2-year-old daughter.

Smith's attorney says the case is complex and he needs time to prepare Smith's defense, including one potentially based on her mental health.

Smith waived a bail hearing for now. At her Sept. 30 court date Smith's defense attorney William Falls and Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis will meet again in court to discuss the mental health of Smith and how much more time may be needed for discovery in the case.

Falls said he may also raise the concern about the publicity surrounding this case and preventing any chance of a fair trial in Clatsop County.

Halls told the judge, "I'm, very concerned with the fact ... the venue might have to be changed at some point."

Marquis said a number of factors, including the defendant's mental health will determine whether he will consider pursing the death penalty.

"It's too soon," Marquis told reporters.