SANTA ANA, Calif. — A woman charged with killing her 13-year-old autistic son and 9-year-old daughter in the midst of a custody dispute asked a judge for the death penalty on Tuesday during her first court appearance since her arrest.
Looking disheveled, her head down and hands behind her back, 42-year-old Marilyn Edge appeared by video link for an arraignment on two counts of murder with special circumstances.
When Orange County Superior Court Judge Craig Robison asked if she wanted her arraignment postponed to Oct. 25, Edge twice said, “Only if you promise me the death penalty.”
Edge could be eligible for the death penalty if convicted. The judge postponed her arraignment.
Edge was being held on suicide watch, Deputy District Attorney Sonia Balleste said. She had told the children, whose custody she had just lost, that they were visiting Southern California to go to beaches and Disneyland, Balleste said.
A phone call seeking comment from Edge’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Arlene Speiser, was not immediately returned.
One special circumstance allegation filed by prosecutors claims the children were poisoned.
Balleste would only say there was evidence of poisoning found in the hotel room where the bodies of Edge’s daughter Faith and son Jaelen were discovered. An autopsy has been performed, but toxicology tests are pending.
Edge lost custody of the children on Wednesday in a Georgia case then texted her ex-husband, Mark Edge, two days later that she would bring the children back on Sunday, his attorney Marian Weeks said. The children were found Saturday in the Santa Ana hotel.
Mark Edge was informed about the death of the children early Sunday by Atlanta police and was taken to a hospital for duress.
Marilyn Edge was driving a car that crashed Saturday into an electrical box outside a shopping complex in Costa Mesa. She refused to get out of the car and tried to choke herself with an electrical cord as rescuers attempted to free her, Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said.
Police found propane in the car but wouldn’t say whether there was a suicide note. Authorities said Edge told investigators they could find her children’s bodies at the hotel.
The Edges were married for less than 10 years and divorced in December 2007, Weeks said. Marilyn Edge claimed her former husband, who routinely traveled to Afghanistan where he worked as a contractor, failed to make child support payments, according to court records.
Marilyn Edge was given full custody of her children in October 2009.
In September, a judge reduced child support payments and ordered joint custody. Marilyn Edge moved to Arizona shortly after the judge’s order, saying she was getting a job transfer.
At a Sept. 11 hearing in Georgia, a judge found that Marilyn Edge was alienating her children from her ex-husband and said he should be given full custody, Weeks said.
The judge gave Edge until noon Sunday to turn over the children.