BRIDGETON — The city woman charged with murdering her toddler and hiding his burnt remains was suffering from postpartum psychosis, her attorney argued Tuesday.

“I don’t think that it’s any secret that my client is suffering from some mental health issues,” defense attorney Kimberly Schultz said, adding it was her belief that “it was an accident and someone panicked.”

A Superior Court judge ruled that Nakira M. Griner, 24, who was charged in the murder Feb. 9 hours after telling police that her 23-month-old son, Daniel Griner Jr., had been abducted, was to remain in jail until trial.

Griner has also been charged with endangering the welfare of a child, desecration of human remains and tampering with evidence. If convicted, she faces life in prison without parole.

She was scheduled to appear for a detention hearing Tuesday morning, but Schultz successfully argued to waive Griner’s appearance and the hearing proceeded without her in the courtroom.

Griner is under protective custody and suicide watch in the Cumberland County jail, Schultz said. She is alone in a cell 23 hours a day, and making an appearance in court could be detrimental to her health, her attorney said.

Schultz said Griner was suffering from postpartum psychosis — she has another child younger than Daniel — in attempting to argue for her release. She suggested Griner be allowed to be detained at home so she could receive treatment, adding Griner has neither a prior record nor prior contact with police.

Senior Prosecutor Elizabeth Vogelsong argued for detention while saying she “strongly disagreed” with Schultz using the word accident.

Vogelsong said authorities undertook a “massive search” to locate the missing child after Griner told police he had been abducted by two attackers who beat her before taking the child while the pair and her youngest child were walking to a deli.

But police became suspicious after her story started to change and there were no injuries on her or her younger child consistent with how she described the attack, Vogelsong said.

“When police arrived at (Griner’s) home on Woodland Drive, all the windows in the home were open and the fans were on,” Vogelsong said. “One officer commented that he smelled a burnt smell in the home.”

During an interview with police, Griner’s husband, who was not identified in court, said a purse with pink trim was out of place, Vogelsong said. Instead of in the home, it was outside.

“Closer examination of the contents of that bag determined to be burnt child remains,” she said.

Later on, Griner told police she lied and “had hit the child for not eating breakfast, put him in the stroller and abandoned him past the Lincoln Deli in order to avoid getting blamed for hurting him,” Vogelsong said.

The younger son, who was also not identified, is in the father’s custody.

Griner is scheduled for a pre-indictment conference March 28 before Judge Cristen D’Arrigo.

Outside the courthouse, two women stood holding signs that read “Justice for Daniel” and “Mothers are to protect their children not kill them” after the hearing.

One of the women, city resident Judy Williams, said she will be outside each time Griner has a court date, even though she has no personal connection to the case.

“She needs to be held accountable for her actions — plain and simple,” Williams said.

Contact: 609-272-7239 Twitter @AublePressofAC

Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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