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Police say Karena Warden killed a 3-year-old boy who was in her care. Lisa Robbins, First Coast News

WAYCROSS, Ga. -- A 42-year-old woman accused of killing a 3-year-old boy appeared in court Thursday morning.

RELATED: Waycross woman charged with murder of 3-year-old boy

Karena Fay Warden is charged with murder and first degree child cruelty. According to the warrant, she kicked and punched Maliachi Smith in the body and head.

The toddler was taken to the Mayo Health Clinic Saturday where he later died, according to the Waycross Police Department. Court documents show the abuse happened over a six-week period.

Warden will stay in the Ware County Jail pending her preliminary hearing, which will be set once she gets a public defender.

Police said they are still waiting for the incident report to be completed before they release additional details surrounding her arrest. However, they said their preliminary investigation gave them enough to criminally charge her with the boy's death.

Authorities won't comment on whether or not anyone else, including Warden's husband, is under investigation in connection with this case.

Murder is punishable by death in the state of Georgia. Authorities said it's too early in the legal process to determine if the death penalty will be pursued.

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