Plea talks to begin in case of Utah newborn deaths

A plea agreement could be in the works for a Utah woman accused of killing six of her seven newborn babies and storing all the bodies in her garage, the prosecutor said Monday.

Megan Huntsman, 39, of Pleasant Grove, waived her right to have a judge review the evidence against her to decide if she should stand trial. Appearing pale and speaking in a soft voice Monday, she told Judge Darold McDade that she understood what it meant to waive her right to a preliminary hearing.

Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman said he expects plea negotiations to begin for Huntsman, who is facing six murder charges in the case, though it's too early to say what penalty his office will seek.

"This is a significant case, unique in our county both in its heinousness and in the number of victims," Buhman said. "It's an unusual case, something that you don't expect to see anywhere much less in Pleasant Grove, Utah."

McDade set an arraignment hearing for Jan. 26, when Huntsman is expected to enter a plea. If talks break down, she could go to trial.

Defense attorneys didn't take questions from reporters or immediately return a call for comment Monday.

The woman's estranged husband discovered the bodies of the seven newborns in April while cleaning out the home they had shared in Pleasant Grove, Utah, a city of about 35,000 south of Salt Lake City.

Police said Huntsman strangled or suffocated six infants over a 10-year period from 1996 to 2006, and a seventh baby found in her garage was stillborn. Investigators say she was addicted to methamphetamine and didn't want to care for the babies.

DNA results have revealed that all seven newborns were full term and that her now-estranged husband, Darren West, was the biological father of the infants. She lived with him during the decade the babies were killed, but he is not considered a suspect in their deaths. West discovered the bodies, which were wrapped in shirts or towels inside individual boxes, shortly after he was released from prison after pleading guilty to drug charges.