RENO, Nev. (AP) - A Nevada judge on Thursday set a preliminary hearing for a Reno couple accused of murder in the death of the man's 5-year-old, malnourished daughter whose emaciated body was discovered in a California storage unit.
Justice of the Peace Pierre Hascheff set the two-day hearing for 24-year-old Tyler Anderson and his 23-year-old wife, Averyauna Anderson, for Jan. 24-25 in Reno Justice Court.
Police say Tyler Anderson's daughter, Cali, was dead in an unkempt Reno apartment for a week before he rented a truck in May, placed the child's emaciated body in a duffel bag inside a blue plastic drum and stashed it in a rental unit in Sacramento, 130 miles (209 kilometers) away.
The couple has been charged with open murder, child neglect and destroying evidence. Both have pleaded not guilty and are being held without bail.
Marc Picker, a lawyer representing Tyler Anderson, said after a brief status hearing in the judge's chambers Thursday that he's still gathering information about the case. "There's a lot more facts that people are not aware of yet," he told The Associated Press.
Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks said Thursday that prosecutors are "committed to seeking justice on behalf of Cali."
Police say the couple left Cali's remains in a friend's storage unit on May 11. The unit's owner became suspicious about the boxes they left behind and called Sacramento police a few days later.
Averyauna Anderson is not the biological mother of the victim, but police have said she and Tyler Anderson lived together in the Reno apartment with two other children they share.
Reno Det. Jeffrey Boyd said in an affidavit in May that Averyauna Anderson agreed to speak with investigators when they visited the couple's apartment with a search warrant May 16. Boyd said officers found a wire animal crate in the bathroom with handcuffs attached to it.
Averyauna Anderson told police the girl was experiencing health problems, had lost considerable weight, had trouble digesting food and had been vomiting, but they never took her for medical treatment.
She told police that around May 4, the girl was immobile and unresponsive with what appeared to be a weak pulse and shallow breathing. She said the couple took turns performing CPR, and later placed Cali in cold water in the shower to try to wake her, the affidavit said.
When they realized she was dead, they changed her clothes and put the body into a duffel bag, where it remained for about a week, she said.
Averyauna Anderson told police her husband researched how to dispose of dead bodies before they rented a U-Haul on May 10, put duffel bag with the body inside a plastic drum and sealed it in a cardboard box, according to the affidavit.
The couple originally was charged with child neglect resulting in death and concealing or destroying evidence. The open murder charge was added in a criminal complaint filed Nov. 1 and the previous $50,000 bail was changed to a no-bail hold.
The couple mistreated the girl between July 2017 and May 2018, and she died sometime between April 27 and May 10, according to the complaint.
It accuses them of killing the girl "with deliberation and premeditation" by "means of complications from under nourishment and/or malnourishment." It says they agreed or conspired to keep the victim "isolated in a dirty/unkempt house and failed to provide sustenance and/or medical care."
Kate Hickman, the Washoe County public defender representing Averyauna, did not immediately respond to calls or emails seeking comment on Thursday.