A Montgomery County judge set bail at $1 million yesterday for the Jamaican teenager who police say gave birth during Tuesday's blizzard and then discarded her five-pound daughter in a freezing trash hut before dawn the next morning.
Tanisha P. Montague, who authorities said trudged to the hut through a foot of snow with the newborn under her coat, sobbed, "No," as a prosecutor told the judge how the baby was dumped in with chicken bones and broken glass in a brown plastic trash can.
She dabbed her eyes and bowed her head, as he told the judge the infant was minutes away from being crushed in a trash truck when a passerby entered the hut to drop some refuse and heard the baby's muffled cry.
Although a defense attorney suggested bail of $100,000, District Court Judge Mary Beth McCormick decided on the higher figure, saying that Montague, who turned 19 on Thursday, might flee to Jamaica if she made bail and was freed.
Montague had been arrested, charged with attempted murder and held without bail Wednesday night about eight hours after her child had been found in a Kmart shopping bag whose handles had been tied shut.
The baby was reported to be in good condition yesterday in Shady Grove Adventist Hospital.
The bail review hearing revealed little new about Montague, who appeared in court via a closed circuit television picture from the county detention center where she is being held.
The prosecutor, State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler, said Montague had been in the country illegally. She had arrived on a traveler's visa in June 1998 and was supposed to have returned in December 1998.
He said investigators have not seen any official form of identification from Montague.
Montague appeared distraught as Gansler described the crime in court and argued that she was both liable to run away if freed and a danger to society.
Had the baby not been discovered, "10 minutes later, when the county trash truck came, she would have been discarded with the rest of the trash . . . and she would have been crushed by the iron blade in the back of the truck," Gansler said afterward.
"She was so tiny. . . . It's just horrifying," he said.
A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Feb. 25.
Authorities and witnesses said Montague had probably been in labor throughout during Tuesday's blizzard and delivered her baby alone about 11 that night in the home of a family friend with whom she had been staying in Germantown.
She apparently cut the infant's umbilical cord herself and tried to care for the child for several hours. But investigators said she became frustrated when the baby wouldn't eat.
As the snow stopped and dawn approached, authorities said, Montague put on her coat, tucked the baby underneath, and walked about a half-block to cinder-block trash hut No. 11 carrying the bag.
Inside, she placed the baby in the bag, which contained toilet paper and other items, tied the handles tightly shut and dropped the bag into a brown can marked "B and B Refuse," investigators said.
The infant had been in the trash hut only a short time when a resident of the complex of condominiums, apartments and town houses emerged to walk her dog about 6 a.m., investigators and witnesses said.
After entering the hut to drop off some trash, the woman, whose name has not been made public, heard a cry and, frightened, approached Jeffrey Kicherer, 39, of Silver Spring, and his girlfriend, Nicole Aernouts, 36, who were shoveling out Aernouts's car.
"I know this sounds stupid, but I just heard what sounded like a baby crying in the trash room," Kicherer said she told him. "Could you go check?"
"I walked over thinking, 'This is impossible.' . . . She probably just heard animals . . . or the wind,'" he said in a telephone interview yesterday.
He ran over to the hut, pulled open the metal door and listened. "I stood there," he said. "Silence. Nothing."
Several seconds ticked by.
Then the baby cried.
"Somebody was looking out for that kid," Aernouts said. But at the same time, "she saved herself by making noise. If she didn't make noise, nobody would have heard her."