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Brianna Williams pleads not guilty to felony charges; Why she is not facing murder charges

First Coast News Crime Analyst discusses why Brianna Williams is not facing murder charges after Williams pleads not guilty in court Wednesday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Brianna Williams, the mother of late 5-year-old Taylor Williams, stood before a judge for the first time Wednesday morning and took a plea of not guilty.

The Judge read her charges, three felonies, that include two counts of child neglect and one count of lying to law enforcement officers.

Williams wore a red jumpsuit instead of the standard issued gray or green jumpsuits. This means she is being watched for possible self-harm, is a high escape risk or has needed medical transport. 

Brianna Williams was arrested in the midst of the search, but was hospitalized and put into a medically-induced coma due to an attempt to try and kill herself, authorities said. She was later transported to the Duval County Jail.

Her next date in court will be Feb. 4 for a pretrial hearing.

These charges came after she reported her daughter missing on Nov. 6. An Amber Alert was issued and, days later, a multi-state wide search ensued. Authorities later discovered Taylor Williams' remains in a wooded-area near Linden and Demopolis, Alabama.

Williams was noticeably thinner Wednesday in court.

"She definitely looks like she has lost some weight," First Coast News crime analyst Mark Baughman said. "Maybe that is because she is depressed and not eating. "Make no mistake about it, she is in jail and she is healthy or they wouldn't put her there. They kept her in the hospital as long as they could make a determination that she needed to be in the hospital, and then they put her in jail because that's where she is going to be booked on those charges."

An arrest warrant released revealed that Brianna Williams, 27, allegedly gave "numerous false statements" to the police about her daughter's whereabouts that were later proven to be false.

Baughman said investigators want to get all of their ducks in a row before they possibly charge Williams with a crime directly connected to Taylor Williams' death. 

“This is a high profile case," Baughman said. "There’s no need to hurry up and charge her until you get all the evidence in place. The evidence is critical to have in a capital case, typically if that’s what you’re going to charge her with if you’re going to charge her with some type of premeditation or murder. In some high profile cases, like Casey Anthony's case, some would say they were too quick to charge her and thus she ended up being acquitted.

Baughman said right now, they may have enough to charge Williams, but want to build a strong case.

"I honestly feel like right now there probably is probable cause to charge her with this, but why would you want to charge her with it just if you have enough probable cause if you want to sustain the conviction," Baughman said.

Both Baughman and Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said they could be waiting on forensics to come back as well.

"There’s a lot of things that take time in a case like that and we want to make sure we get it right," Williams said. "Sometimes you only get one bite of the apple in something like this and we have to make sure we have all of our ducks in a row. Again, we are working in partnership with the state attorney’s office at every step so again making sure we do it right."

Baughman also said they may not have released the cause of Taylor’s death yet because the remains had deteriorated in the elements in the wooded area in Alabama, making it take longer to determine the cause of death.

First Coast News reached out to Taylor Williams' father, Maurice Tate who lives in Alabama, Wednesday about Brianna Williams not guilty plea. He said he had no comment.

Brianna Williams' bond is set at $1 million.

RELATED: Upgraded felony charge filed against Brianna Williams in the case of her dead 5-year-old daughter

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Credit: First Coast News