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USC student held in newborn's death

Associated Press, LA Daily News, U.S.A. October 14, 2005

A University of Southern California student was charged Thursday with murder for allegedly leaving her newborn son in a box next to trash bin where he was found dead.

Holly Ashcraft, 21, of Montana was charged with one count of murder and one count of child abuse, Deputy District Attorney Efrain Aceves said.

Ashcraft, who was arrested Wednesday, made a court appearance Thursday but her arraignment was postponed to Nov. 9. If convicted, she would face 25 years to life in prison.

Superior Court Judge David Sotelo ordered Ashcraft jailed in lieu of $2 million bail after the prosecution asked that her initial $1 million bail be doubled.

"The reason we've asked for that is we feel that she is a flight risk at this point given the fact that she is a student from another state," Deputy District Attorney Efrain Aceves said outside court. "She's from Montana, and from our understanding, there were no ties to the community, so we're concerned that she would be a flight risk."

After the court session, defense attorney Adam Franken was asked about his client's mood.

"I talked to her briefly in back, it was very brief," Franken told KABC-TV. "I couldn't really say anything about her composure. I mean you saw - she was the same way she was in the courtroom."

Results of an autopsy to determine the cause of death won't likely be available for at least a month, coroner's investigator John Kadas said.

Police found the body early Monday behind a popular south Hoover Street restaurant-bar after receiving an anonymous 911 call from a man who said he discovered it in a box next to a trash bin.

Police said they had no leads in the case until someone recognized the voice on the widely publicized 911 tape and urged the caller to talk to authorities.

California allows mothers to surrender newborns to hospital emergency rooms and some fire stations with no questions asked - and no legal repercussions - within 72 hours of a baby's birth.

So far this year in Los Angeles, seven babies have been turned over safely to authorities, according to county statistics.

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