Jhesseye Shockley case: Defense attorney discusses Jerice Hunter arrest

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Jerice Hunter, Jhessye Shockley's mother By Catherine Holland Jerice Hunter, Jhessye Shockley's mother By Catherine Holland
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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- The arrest of Jerice Hunter for the disappearance of her 5-year-old daughter Jhesseye Shockley has left many people with questions.

In November 2011 Hunter was arrested on child abuse charges but released after those charges were dropped. For nearly a year many people have wondered why police were waiting to make an arrest if Hunter were the main suspect.

We asked Phoenix criminal defense attorney Jason Lamm that same question.

"They've spent a lot of time putting this case together because of the high-profile nature, because we have a child involved," he explained. "With complexities, they wanted to dot their Is and cross all their Ts."

Although he is not working on this case, Lamm believes the detectives were likely looking at all the circumstantial evidence, piecing it all together like a big puzzle.

"They had eye-witness testimony of someone who saw Jhesseye looking like a zombie, looking severely abused," he said. "We know that the closet where she was basically held prisoner smelled like death, and we know police took physical and biological evidence out of there."

Many people worry about whether prosecutors can get a conviction without the body of the 5-year-old.

Lamm says it can be done 

"You need to build your case to show Jerice Hunter actually caused the death of her daughter," he explained. "But you're not going to have the body to show how the death happened, in terms of the mechanism or cause of injury or an autopsy. So what they need to do is build the case with other evidence. For example if Jerice Hunter made statements to other people, that's the kind of thing they will get into."

A judge set Hunter's bond at $500,000. Hunter is scheduled for arraignment on Sept. 13.