Erica Mendell Daye, charged with first-degree murder in the decapitation and mutilation of her 5-year-old son, described herself yesterday as "an asset to the community" who should be freed on bond pending trial.

But after requests by prosecutors to deny bail, Prince George's District Court Judge William D. Missouri, noting the "serious" nature of the case, set bond at $200,500, including $500 for an earlier battery charge. Her lawyer said he doubted she could make bond.

"I don't feel like I'm a threat to the community," Daye said. "I always worked with the community and in the community. I've been going to the Park Road Church for five years . . . . I've done a lot of civic work.

"I understand the charges are very serious, but . . . I won't run or hide. I will stand up before the court to prove whatever."

Daye has not entered a plea to the murder charge, on which a preliminary hearing was set for March 10.

Daye's calm demeanor during the 10-minute bond hearing contrasted sharply with her behavior at an arraignment in the District earlier this month, in which she shouted and taunted courtroom marshals.

Daye, 25, was arrested Jan. 13 at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Southeast Washington, where she was a patient. The day before, her son, William Lawrence Deloach III, had been found decapitated, dismembered and disembowled on a love seat in her apartment at 7950 18th Ave., Adelphi.

Initially held in the District on a $50,000 bond, Daye waived extradition Tuesday and was returned to the county, where she is held at the jail in Upper Marlboro. Yesterday's hearing was conducted by closed-circuit television, with Daye listening to the proceedings from the jail and her lawyer, the county prosecutor and judge present at the courthouse.

In response to a question from the judge as to whether she understood the charge, Daye said, "Yes, sir."

Attorney Alan Goldstein argued that, while she had been convicted of writing a series of bad checks between 1981 and 1983, she should be freed pending her trial because she had no prior convictions for violent crime.

But Assistant State's Attorney Norman Kiger, arguing for no bond, cited the "grotesque nature of the offense" and said her alleged crime was "perpetrated against the very person this woman above all should've been seeking to protect." He said she posed a threat to community safety.