A Casa Grande woman accused of forcing her family to take prescription narcotic drugs in an attempt to kill them on Christmas Day has pleaded not guilty.
The Casa Grande Dispatch reports Connie Villa, 35, entered her plea when she was arraigned Friday in Pinal County Superior Court. Villa remains in the county jail in Florence without bond.
She faces one count of first-degree murder and four counts of attempted first-degree murder.
She was arrested in the death of 13-year-old Aniarael Macias and is also accused of attempting to poison her three children, ages 3, 5 and 8, said Casa Grande police spokesman Officer Thomas Anderson.
According to police, Connie Villa admitted her reason for planning to kill her children and ex-husband was because she did not want him to have custody of their children.
In an interview with police, Connie Villa said she tried to kill all of her children by forcing them to ingest prescription narcotic drugs. Villa said she was not able to force Aniarael to ingest the drugs. She said she then suffocated Aniarael to death with her bare hands, Casa Grande police said.
Connie Villa was arrested after being released from Maricopa Medical Center, where she was being treated for what investigators believe to be self-inflicted stab wounds to her upper torso.
Connie Villa contacted her ex-husband, 33-year-old Adam Villa, and lured him to her apartment at 351 North Peart Rd. She then stabbed him repeatedly in the upper torso, Anderson said.
Adam Villa was able to flee and called police while driving himself to the Casa Grande Regional Medical Center.
Officers arrived at the apartment and had to force open the door to get in. They found Connie Villa in the apartment with apparent stab wounds to her upper torso, Anderson said.
She was holding a knife to her chest and had her three youngest children at her side, Anderson said. Officers took Connie Villa into custody. They discovered Connie Villa's oldest daughter, Aniarael Macias, in the bathroom.
Medics arrived on scene and determined Aniarael Macias was dead, Anderson said. She did not have any apparent injuries and the cause of her death was not immediately known.
Adam Villa was taken to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment of his injuries. Connie Villa was also transported to a Phoenix-area hospital, where she was treated for her injuries.
The children were also taken to a Phoenix-area hospital for evaluation. Medical authorities discovered the children had trace amounts of opiates in their systems, Anderson said.
The three children are currently in good condition and Child Protective Services has placed them with Adam Villa's family.
The family of Aniarael Macias issued a statement:
"On behalf of Michael Macias, Ania's father, Vera Macias, Ania's grandmother and extended family, we request that the focus of this tragedy be a celebration of our precious Ania's life. She was a gentle, kind and beautiful spirit who was taken from us much too soon. Michael and his family are heartbroken.
"Ania was always smiling. She loved her brothers and sisters. She enjoyed spending time with her father and sister Gaby. We are writing this statement in hopes that the media and other outlets will allow Michael and our family to grieve peacefully.
"We thank everyone for the outpouring of support for our family. We appreciate your prayers and positive thoughts. We pray that justice will be served."
The victim's biological father was contacted and is working closely with police.
Esther Molina lives next door to Connie Villa and said she heard someone knocking at the Villa's home Christmas night.
"The guy was knocking on the door for a while and it was dark. I thought 'they are not going to answer; they are sleeping.' Once my boyfriend left, she opened the door," said Molina.
Exactly what happened inside the apartment once Connie Villa opened the door to Adam Villa remains unknown. Police say Adam Villa called 911 and stated his wife stabbed him and he was driving himself to Casa Grande Regional Medical Center.
"Right before I was going to look out (the window) I heard police and they started barging in, breaking the door down," added Molina.
Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News for updates on this developing story.
Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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