JEFFERSON, Ohio - A woman indicted on charges related to the death of her infant made her first court appearance Tuesday in Ashtabula County court.
Conneaut police arrested Kelsie Blankenship Friday morning. She faces two counts of murder, one count of felonious assault, three counts of endangering children and one count of domestic violence.
She entered a plea of not guilty. Her attorney argued for a low bond based on her cooperation in the investigation, and the group of family and friends there to support her. The judge set bond at $250,000.
The badly beaten body of 13-month-old Sereniti Jazzlynn-Sky Blankenship-Sutley was found in her Conneaut home on Clark Street on Oct. 7, 2017. Investigators in Ashtabula County said she died of blunt force trauma to her head and body.
Kelsie's live-in boyfriend Joshua Gurto was previously charged with aggravated murder and rape.
He is being held on a $1 million bond. He was indicted one month after Sereniti's death.
Following a nationwide manhunt, police arrested Gurto in Pennsylvania several weeks after the child's body was found. Police said he hitchhiked out of state and was found outside Pittsburgh after he was caught on a convenience store surveillance camera.
Ashtabula County prosecutors are looking to dismiss the death penalty motion against Gurto as a result of the indictment on Blankenship.
Ashtabula County Prosecutor Nicholas Iarocci would not comment on whether Gurto implicated Blankenship in the murder.
Iarocci said Blankenship has been a person of interest throughout the investigation and has been cooperative with authorities.
"Our ultimate goal with the indictments against both Blankenship and Gurto is to obtain justice for Sereniti, and nothing else," Iarocci said. "This poor child was brutally beaten and raped, and my office and law enforcement is doing and will continue to do everything in our power to secure justice for a child whose spirit lives on in each of us handling the case."
Blankenship has a history of drug charges. Iarocci said she went through Ashtabula County's drug court program.
Blankenship is being held in the Ashtabula County Jail.
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