District Judge Dave Gamble authorized funds for a psychological evaluation for a Gardnerville woman accused of abusing two young children. Douglas County investigators are searching for an infant who may not exist.
Gamble refused to change bail status for Sandy June Linn, 39, jailed on $10,000 bail or release her on her own recognizance.
If Linn does bail out, he ordered her to have no contact with the children or any potential witnesses.
"It's in the best interests of the little ones not to have visits now," Gamble said.
Linn was arrested Jan. 23 following a civil proceeding before Gamble to determine if her children were in need of protection.
In the criminal case, she is charged with two counts of child abuse causing substantial bodily harm and one count of child abuse or neglect.
According to court documents, the abuse reportedly occurred from January 2003 until last October.
The charges against her allege that she deprived a now 7-year-old boy of food and water to the extent that he is below average height and weight for his age group.
She also is accused of causing mental and physical abuse to the same victim.
The third charge accuses Linn of forcing a 6-year-old girl to stand in a corner for hours performing repetitive acts.
She also is accused of stuffing a washrag in the child's mouth.
Prosecutor Kris Brown told Gamble the little boy was growing at three times the average rate for children his age since he was taken from his mother.
The little girl, now 6, has the weight of a 3-year-old and the height of a 4-year-old, Brown said.
She also said the girl suffers from bone disease and liver damage that doctors said was consistent with neglect.
Linn submitted a letter to Gamble on Tuesday.
"I am not taking what you say lightly," Gamble said after he read the letter. "I continue to recognize that presumption of innocence. The purpose of the other case is to restore families, not tear them apart. That is tempered with my need to make sure everyone is protected and that includes you."
Brown continued to argue against Linn's release on her own recognizance.
"I think her bail is too low," Brown said. "She has no ties to the community."
Brown addressed concerns over a "baby everybody is looking for."
"She (Linn) said she miscarried early on, but friends and family are looking for this baby as well as Child Protective Services," Brown said.
The baby's birth announcement was published in the June 21, 2006, edition of The Record-Courier, listing the child's birthdate as May 22, 2006.
Brown said investigators have been unable to find any legal record of the child, reportedly born in Santa Rosa, Calif.
"She perpetuated a lie and accepted money for this baby," Brown said. "She's manipulative and she's a liar."
Lawyer Tod Young said his client sought release from jail because she said she faced eviction at the end of the month.
"The children are not in the home now, so they are not in danger if they ever were. She denies engaging in any harmful activity to any of the children. She believes she can get a job and is not a flight risk," Young said.
Gamble remanded the case to East Fork Justice Court for further proceedings.