September 17, 2014

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Judge recommends treatment for mom accused of drowning daughters

CLEVELAND — A judge ordered a woman accused of drowning her two daughters in a bathtub held on $2 million bond Wednesday and recommended she receive medical and psychological treatment.

Amber Hill, 22, who is in jail on suicide watch, bowed her head during a hearing in Cleveland Municipal Court and cried when a prosecutor noted the severity of the crimes.

AP
Amber C. Hill makes her first court appearance in Cleveland on Wednesday.

“The victims being 4 and 2 years of age represent perhaps the most vulnerable in our society. They deserved the right to be protected,” said assistant city prosecutor Gayle Williams

Judge Lauren Moore set Hill’s bond at $1 million for each child. Hill, who is charged with two counts of aggravated murder, made no comment at the brief hearing and did not enter a plea.

Hill was represented by public defender Kathy DeMetz, who told the judge that Hill has no prior criminal record, is a student and is in medical and psychiatric need.

DeMetz said later that she spoke with Hill for about 30 minutes before the hearing but didn’t disclose details of the conversation. Two public defenders will likely be assigned to the case if Hill is indicted by a grand jury, DeMetz said.

“Clearly, whomever ends up representing her will seek to have her examined by a psychiatrist,” DeMetz said. “She is a human being. I felt for her. Despite what she is accused of, there is a good side to the person.”

Police said Hill called the girls’ father on Monday and told him that the children “are at peace.” Jamie Cintron went to the apartment where the family lived and pulled his daughters from the water in the bathtub.

A coroner ruled Tuesday that the deaths were homicides. Police say the girls’ names were Jannelle Cintron, 4, and Cecess Hill, 2. The coroner’s office had different spellings of their first names, Janelle and Ceccies.

Carolyn Hill, an aunt of the defendant, said after the court hearing that Amber Hill was under extreme stress over her relationship with the girls’ father.

Cintron pleaded no contest and was found guilty of domestic violence against Hill in 2004 and 2006. Records do not indicate if he attended court-ordered domestic violence and parenting programs.

A woman who came to the door Wednesday at a house where Cintron was staying said he no longer was there and no longer wanted to be interviewed.

Ashley Merritt, 22, of Cleveland, said Hill was a close friend and that Hill had been studying to be a medical assistant.

The Cleveland branch of Remington College on Wednesday confirmed Hill had been a student there but stopped attending about two months ago, said Jim Zinsmeister, campus operations manager.