FORSYTH -- Wearing her hair in a tight bun and dressed in a wrinkled, blue, button-up shirt, Amanda Hendrickson appeared older than her 33 years Thursday as she pleaded not guilty in her 5-year-old daughter’s beating death.
Anthony Woods, father of the slain Heaven Woods, sat quietly on the front row during the brief hearing at the Monroe County Justice Center.
If convicted of murder, Hendrickson could join Gwinnett County’s Kelly Renee Gissendaner as the second woman on Georgia’s death row.
Prosecutors announced earlier this summer they are seeking capital punishment against Hendrickson and her boyfriend, 35-year-old Roderick Buckner.
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Buckner pleaded guilty to murder at a June 17 hearing, accepting a plea agreement. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Prosecutors and Hendrickson’s state-appointed defense team are set to return to court Dec. 21 to argue pretrial motions. At the earliest, her trial could be held in 2016.
At the June hearing, District Attorney Richard Milam said Buckner struck Woods in the abdomen on May 18, 2014, and again the next day.
An autopsy showed that the child died of internal bleeding, loss of blood and blunt force trauma to her abdomen. She also had suffered injuries to multiple parts of her body -- some that had healed -- in the weeks before her death.
Monroe County 911 received two calls shortly before 9 a.m. on May 20, 2014, about an unresponsive child at the Brookwood Drive home in Forsyth where Buckner, Hendrickson and Heaven Woods lived. The girl died in the Monroe County Hospital’s emergency room soon after she arrived.
Hendrickson had a history with the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services from when she and Woods lived in Rome, according to the GBI.
Since her arrest, Hendrickson has given birth to a baby, who has been placed in foster care. Buckner is the baby’s father, Milam has said.
Buckner also has a teenage son, and Hendrickson has other children, but she doesn’t have custody of them.
Hendrickson is charged with murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and cruelty to children.
The last Monroe County death penalty trial was held 18 years ago and resulted in Andrew Allen Cook being sentenced to die for the 1995 shooting deaths of Mercer University students Michele Cartagena, 19, and Grant Hendrickson, 22, at Lake Juliette.
Cook was executed in 2013.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398 or find her on Twitter@awomackmacon.