By Suevon Lee
As her case heads to trial this fall, Violet Ray was noticeably absent in the courtroom Tuesday during a scheduled status hearing.
That's because, according to court-appointed attorney Tricia Jenkins, the Belleview woman accused of murder is in "a very fragile state" and requested she sit out the hearing.
Although Circuit Judge Jonathan Ohlman granted that request in advance, prosecutors had a different idea in mind for future court events.
"Frankly, I can't envision the case proceeding without her making an appearance in court," said Assistant State Attorney Anthony Tatti, who has taken over the case from veteran prosecutor John Moore, who will be retiring at the end of this month.
The 35-year-old Ray is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and child neglect in connection with the beating death of her adopted 2-year-old daughter, Faith Ray, in December 2008. She remains free on bond.
The child died of injuries stemming from blunt-force trauma to the head, torso and extremities, according to a report filed by the state Department of Children and Families.
Prosecutors are seeking a maximum life sentence against Ray.
No plea discussions have taken place at this point, lawyers told the judge.
If no plea agreement is reached, Ray will head to trial in November.
She and her husband had five other adopted children who were all placed into foster care when the Rays' parental rights were terminated in April 2009 following a two-day trial in family court.
Ray's arrest on her current charges came at the conclusion of that proceeding. She is next scheduled to make a court appearance in August for a pretrial hearing.