TAMPA (FOX 13) - The woman accused of throwing her 4-year-old daughter into the Hillsborough River and leaving her to drown has been denied bond during a pre-trial hearing.
Tampa police say Shakayla Denson, 26, waded into the river around 4 p.m. on August 2 and tossed Je'Hyrah Daniels, described as having autism and being non-verbal, into the water.
Witnesses called police after seeing the child being thrown into the river. About 30 minutes later, the body of the little girl was found by rescuers. Denson was found walking nearby and taken into custody. She has been charged with first-degree murder.
At a court hearing Wednesday morning, a witness who was cleaning a home nearby, described through a translator seeing a woman carrying a child into the water.
The woman remembers Denson's daughter struggling in the water, "lifting up her hands... then her head would come up and then her hands."
The witness said, a short time later, she saw the woman but no longer saw the child.
"I don't know if she threw her or she left her I don't know I can't say but after that, she didn't have the child," the witness said.
Tampa police detective Matthew Kirkpatrick was also called to the stand to testify that witnesses saw Denson and the little girl in a vehicle stolen from an auto repair shop and Denson was yelling expletives on a cell phone. The stolen vehicle was found at the crime scene, Det. Kirkpatrick said.
Det. Kirkpatrick said Denson began making strange statements as soon as he started interviewing her.
"[She said] that her family was out to get her. She also stated that the maintenance man at her apartment complex was maybe in her apartment and put a spell on her apartment," Det. Kirkpatrick recalled.
Det. Kirkpatrick said witnesses heard Denson singing, "a nursery rhyme; it's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring."
Wednesday, the judge denied Denson bond as the case moves forward to trial.
Denson was seen during the court hearing wiping away tears and mouthing the words, "I love you" to a family member.
Denson's sister-in-law, Veronica Denson says Shakayla would never harm her little girl.
"She loved her baby. She would do nothing to hurt her baby. Something drove her to that river to do that," Veronica Denson said. "I don't think she would just take her to the river and leave her out there to die. That’s not the Kayla I know."
Denson faces first-degree murder charges. The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office has yet to decide whether it will seek the death penalty.