Missing toddler's mom will stay in jail

Zinah Jennings

COLUMBIA -- The mother of a boy missing since Thanksgiving will stay behind bars after a judge on Tuesday denied a request to lower her bond, despite pleas by her attorney that the pregnant woman needs prenatal care outside the jail.

Circuit Judge Casey Manning did not explain his reasons for keeping Zinah Jennings' bond at $150,000, noting that prosecutors had argued that she "was a flight risk and danger to the community, herself, and her unborn child."

Manning ruled a day after hearing arguments about Jennings' pregnancy. Defense attorney Hemphill Pride II also said his client has been receiving psychiatric care and is on medication for it.

Jennings, 22, has been in jail since late December. She is charged with cruelty to children because, authorities said, she is lying about the whereabouts of her son, Amir. The boy was 18 months old when his grandmother reported him missing at Thanksgiving.

"I realize that the child is important, and it appears to me that the child's whereabouts have certainly clouded the issue of whether or not the mother is entitled to a bond," Pride said.