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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Quebecer suspected of kidnapping baby must undergo psychiatric exam

TROIS RIVIERES, - A 21-year-old woman suspected of kidnapping a newborn from a Trois-Rivieres maternity ward will undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether the criminal case against her can proceed.

Valerie Poulin Collins looked pale and tired as she was driven to court in the back of a Quebec provincial police cruiser Thursday morning.

She was arraigned on two charges: one of kidnapping and one of abducting a person under 14 years old.

If convicted on the abduction charge, she faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

If found guilty of the kidnapping count, Poulin Collins faces a sentence ranging from five years in jail to life imprisonment.

The parents of the abducted infant and the baby herself were present in court but did not speak during the process or afterwards.

Karine Bussieres, the lawyer for Poulin Collins, told the judge her client is incapable of helping her prepare a defence and asked for the psychiatric evaluation.

"For the moment, I'm unable to communicate or have a rational discussion with her," Bussieres told reporters after the hearing.

Jean Pascal Boucher, a spokesman for the Crown, said Poulin Collins will remain in custody until she returns to court next Thursday.

"Considering the circumstances and her medical condition, a request was made to evaluate her ability to continue in the proceedings," he said. "We should have the answer on June 5 after the pyschiatric evaluation."

Police arrested Poulin Collins at her home on Monday, three hours after a woman posing as a nurse snatched a 16-hour-old infant from a local hospital. The baby girl was returned to her parents unharmed.

Officers located Poulin Collins with the help of locals who recognized the woman from a photo sent out with an Amber Alert.

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