Tennessee

Attorney hired for mom charged with stabbing 4 kids to death

  • Shanynthia Gardner remains silent via video as Judge Loyce Lambert Ryan, right, asks a series of questions during a hearing in court Tuesday, July 5, 2016, in Memphis. The 29-year-old is charged in the fatal stabbings of her four children. (Jim Weber/The Commercial Appeal via AP)

    Shanynthia Gardner remains silent via video as Judge Loyce Lambert Ryan, right, asks a series of questions during a hearing in court Tuesday, July 5, 2016, in Memphis. The 29-year-old is charged in the fatal stabbings of her four children. (Jim Weber/The Commercial Appeal via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Nichols, left, leads reporters away for a short press conference as family members of Shanynthia Gardner wait for the defense attorney after her video hearing in Judge Loyce Lambert Ryan's court Tuesday, July 5, 2016, in Memphis. The 29-year-old is charged in the fatal stabbings of her four children. (Jim Weber/The Commercial Appeal via AP)

    Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Nichols, left, leads reporters away for a short press conference as family members of Shanynthia Gardner wait for the defense attorney after her video hearing in Judge Loyce Lambert Ryan's court Tuesday, July 5, 2016, in Memphis. The 29-year-old is charged in the fatal stabbings of her four children. (Jim Weber/The Commercial Appeal via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • This 2016 arrest photo provided by the Shelby County Sheriff's Office shows Shanynthia Gardner of Memphis, Tenn. Gardner is charged with fatally stabbing her four children in an apartment and is scheduled to appear before a judge by video for an arraignment Tuesday, July 5, 2016. (Shelby County Sheriff's Office via AP)

    This 2016 arrest photo provided by the Shelby County Sheriff's Office shows Shanynthia Gardner of Memphis, Tenn. Gardner is charged with fatally stabbing her four children in an apartment and is scheduled to appear before a judge by video for an arraignment Tuesday, July 5, 2016. (Shelby County Sheriff's Office via AP)  (The Associated Press)

An attorney has been hired to represent a Tennessee woman charged with fatally stabbing four of her children but declined to discuss the case.

Craig Morton says he is representing 29-year-old Shanynthia Gardner, who has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of her three daughters and one son, all younger than 5.

A judge waived Gardner's arraignment during a Tuesday hearing at which she appeared by video. Outside court, Morton declined to talk about the case.

Shelby County sheriff's officials say Gardner stabbed her children Friday afternoon at her apartment. Court documents say she acknowledged killing them in a phone conversation to their father.

A fifth child, age 7, escaped the attack.

Authorities have not said why they think she killed her children. Investigators are looking into whether she has mental health problems.