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Daycare owner charged with murder in 4-month-old's death makes first court appearance

45-year-old Amanda Harris Hickey was arrested Friday and appeared before a DeKalb County judge on Saturday.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A Dunwoody daycare owner arrested on Friday and charged with murder in the death of a four-month-old made her first appearance in court on Saturday.

Amanda Harris Hickey, 45, faces charges of felony murder and cruelty to children after a baby was found unresponsive on Wednesday in a crib at her home daycare operation, Little Lovey.

Hickey appeared before DeKalb Magistrate Judge Phyllis R. Williams, with her attorney, waiving her right to hear the judge read the two arrest warrants.

RELATED: Dunwoody daycare owner charged with murder in 4-month-old's death, police say

HIckey spoke only to acknowledge to the judge that she understood the charges.

Hickey will remain in jail until she has a bond hearing in Superior Court - a Magistrate Court judge does not have the authority to decide one way or another about issuing a bond. Hickey's attorney, Tracy S. Reeves, Jr., said he would would request both a bond hearing in Superior Court, and a probable cause hearing in Magistrate Court. 

Georgia's Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS), and the Dunwoody Police Department are now working together in the case, described as an open investigation. Details about how the infant died, and the identities of the baby and parents, have not been released, and police and prosecutors are not yet ready to disclose what possible evidence they may have to support the charges against Hickey.

State records going back more than four years show no violations at the daycare, other than issues such as the state needing a background check on a 17-year-old who helped at the daycare, which was resolved. 

Neighbors who spoke to 11Alive on Friday were stunned.

"I saw them putting handcuffs on her," said Mikayla Helland. "I know she's a good woman, she's a kind woman. That's not something like her to do that."

Helland said she also saw police carrying brown bags containing possible evidence out of Hickey's home and placing the bags into a vehicle.

A couple, walking their newborn in a stroller past Hickey's home Friday evening, said they had just found out recently that there was an opening in the daycare and they were excited when they were able to sign up to take their baby there, beginning in March. 

They said they checked HIckey's references and found them to be impeccable, and that other parents in the neighborhood who had placed their children in Hickey's care over the years had nothing but praise for her.

Hickey includes, on her Facebook page, glowing reviews from parents about the care she provides. 

State records indicate that Hickey had installed surveillance cameras inside the daycare.

DECAL said that parents who were impacted by this incident and are looking for alternative childcare can find resources by calling the toll-free number 1-877-ALL-GA-KIDS or visiting QualityRated.org.

You can watch Hickey's full, brief court appearance below:

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