SAN FRANCISCO -- A woman police said dropped her young sons into San Francisco Bay pleaded not guilty yesterday to three counts of murder.
Lashuan Harris, described as mentally ill by family members, kept her head down and held her public defender's hand through most of the brief court hearing. She quietly answered ''yes" when a San Francisco Superior Court judge asked whether she was willing to waive her right to a speedy preliminary hearing.
Harris, 23, faces three counts of murder with the ''special circumstance" of multiple murder. A claim of special circumstances means a murder defendant could be eligible for the death penalty. San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris said she has not decided whether to seek such a sentence.
''I've also said I'll always review the facts and compare them to the law before I announce my decision," she said outside court.
Harris's lawyer, Teresa Caffese, declined to address questions about her client's mental state, saying only that Harris was under suicide watch. She is being held without bail.
''It's very, very difficult," Caffese said. ''This can't be captured in words right now."
Authorities said Harris, a former nurse's assistant who was living in a homeless shelter, was seen putting her three boys in the bay Wednesday. The body of Harris's middle son, Taronta Greeley, 2, was recovered late Wednesday about 2 miles from Pier 7. The other two children -- Treyshun Harris, 6, and Joshoa Greeley, 16 months -- remained missing, but were presumed dead after so many hours in the water.
The US Coast Guard called off its search Thursday afternoon, but the San Francisco police and fire departments continued to scour the bay for the two bodies.
Harris told investigators she had taken the anti-psychotic drug Haldol to control schizophrenia but stopped when she got her symptoms under control over the summer, a police report said.