NAPERVILLE, Illinois (AP) — The attorney for a suburban Chicago woman accused of stabbing to death her young son and a girl she was babysitting asked the public not to rush to judgment after the woman's arraignment hearing on Wednesday.
Elzbieta Plackowska pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in each child's death. Prosecutors allege she stabbed her 7-year-old son more than 100 times because she was angry with her husband, and then stabbed the 5-year-old girl about 50 times because she was a witness.
Prosecutors said Wednesday that a psychiatrist has started a mental health evaluation of Plackowska in anticipation she may use an insanity defense. They said the process could take months.
Outside a DuPage Country courthouse after a brief hearing, public defender Michael Mara told reporters he will start building Plackowska's defense after the prosecution turned over photographs and 40 CDs and DVDs from its investigation. The county's top prosecutor, DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin, says the material includes Plackowska's confession.
"What happened here is a tragedy but it's important to remember not to rush to judgement," Mara told reporters. "Now we can start our defense."
Plackowska's next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 4.
During the hearing, she stood silently in a blue jail uniform beside Mara. The hearing was broadcast live on websites as part of Illinois' experiment with using cameras in courtrooms for the first time.
Plackowska has told investigators that the children had been jumping on the bed at the girl's home in Naperville. She ordered them to pray, then stabbed them both dozens of times as they begged for their lives.
The 40-year-old Polish immigrant told investigators she killed her son, Justin, because she was upset with her husband, a truck driver who was often away from home. Prosecutors say she killed the girl, Olivia Dworakowski, because she had witnessed her son's death.
Berlin says Plackowska had been babysitting for Dworakowski since the beginning of the school year, although Justin and Olivia went to different schools and it wasn't clear how or when the two families met. Plackowska babysat Olivia numerous times as her mother works various shifts as a nurse, he said.