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Prosecutor considering death penalty in Amber Pasztor case

ELKHART, Ind. (AP/WANE) – Amber Pasztor went before a judge Monday morning for the first time since being charged with murder for allegedly smothering her two young children.  The judge entered a not guilty plea for her.

Pasztor, 29, of Fort Wayne appeared in Elkhart Circuit Court and showed no emotion when the judge read the murder charges she faces. The judge set a January 23, 2017 trial date and she will be appointed a public defender after telling the court she did not have money to pay for an attorney. None of Pasztor’s family attended the hearing.

Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill said as far as he knows, Pasztor has not undergone a mental health evaluation.

“We would certainly anticipate the possibility of competency evaluations to make a determination of her ability to stand trial,” Hill said. “That would be up to her counsel and perhaps our office depending on how circumstances flow.”

He also said he’s not ruling out pursuing the death penalty.

“It’s always a consideration in cases wherein there are certain aggravating circumstances,” Hill said. “Clearly in this particular case there are some aggravating circumstances that would qualify this as a capital case and it will be some time before we make further evaluations as to whether we would look at those additional sanctions as a possibility.”

Her next court date has been scheduled for October 27.

The murder charges were filed after police in Elkhart found the bodies of 7-year-old Liliana Hernandez and 6-year-old Rene Pasztor on Sept. 26, hours after authorities issued an Amber Alert following their abduction from the home of their custodial grandparents.

Police say in an affidavit that she confessed to smothering the children.

Allen County prosecutor Karen Richards said she believes Pasztor is connected to the shooting death of a neighbor, 65-year-old Frank Macomber, whose car she was driving when she was arrested. His body was found Tuesday in a wooded area. No charges have been filed in Allen County at this time.