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JBER Soldier Accused in Newborn's Death Makes 1st Court Appearance

Published On: Dec 24 2013 09:16:21 AM AKST   Updated On: Oct 28 2013 06:52:33 AM AKDT

On Saturday, 24-year-old Army Spc. Ashley Ard made her first court appearance in Anchorage Jail Court since being charged with second-degree murder in the death of her newborn child, whose body was found at an Eagle River park.

Handmade memorials and teddy bears still lie in Turner Park, where Ard's child was found dead earlier this month.

Anchorage police say Ard gave birth to a baby girl in her home in Eagle River Oct. 15, then allegedly left the newborn at Turner Park, where a passerby found her wrapped in a blanket hours later in the morning.

"The man had his dog on a leash, and the dog did go over and investigate that area where the blanket was, and he pulled his dog away,” said APD Detective Sgt. Cindi Stanton.

At a Saturday news conference, APD says the newborn may have died at the park. Police also say Alaska is one of many states that has a safe haven law, which means Ard could have left the baby at a fire station, police station or hospital -- no questions asked. The nearest fire station to the park is only a mile away.

"I don't know if she was aware of that at this time, but she would not be facing murder charges at this point had she used the safe haven,” said Sgt. Stanton.

Ard is a member of JBER’s 2nd Engineer Brigade, and had just arrived in Alaska in September for her new assignment. She told the magistrate that she also has a 14-month-old daughter.

Police aren't commenting on Ard's motives for allegedly abandoning her newborn daughter and autopsy results remain pending.

A judge set Ard's bond at $250,000 and her next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 29.