Mary Agnes Leider, accused of throwing her toddler out of a moving pickup truck south of Hardin, denied murder charges Tuesday.
During a brief arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby, Leider, 24, of St. Xavier, pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.
Leider appeared in court earlier this month on a criminal complaint filed in the case. Second-degree murder, which is knowingly killing a person with malice aforethought, carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
Leider’s daughter, Tenielle Ameryl Big Day, 3, died Dec. 3 of blunt-force trauma, Big Horn County Coroner Terry Bullis said earlier.
Court records allege that Leider, who was in the front passenger seat of her pickup truck, which was being driven by her brother, Wally Leider, opened the door and threw her daughter onto Highway 313 on the Crow Reservation.
Law enforcement officers responded to a call shortly after 4 a.m. and found Leider and her brother, Arland Leider, sitting by the side of the road and crying. Officers responding to another call on the highway about eight miles away found Wally Lieder, the dead child and Georgiana Denny, the Leiders’ mother.
Wally Leider told investigators that while traveling south to St. Xavier, Mary Leider opened the passenger door and threw her daughter out. He stopped as fast as he could, removed his sister from the truck and went back down the road to where the child lay.
Mary Leider was taken to Hardin Memorial Hospital for treatment of facial abrasions and to have her blood drawn. Blood results showed her alcohol level was 0.24 percent, three times the legal limit for driving. She also gave conflicting statements about what happened.
Ostby continued Leider’s detention. The case will be heard by Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull.