The mother of a five-year-old girl believed to have been killed last summer was in a Winnipeg court Friday asking to be released on bail.

The judge imposed a publication banFriday on the bail hearing of Samantha Dawn Kematch, 24, who is charged in connection with the death of Phoenix Victoria Sinclair.

The hearing is scheduled tocontinue on Wednesday.

Phoenix was allegedly abused and killed in June2005 on the Fisher River Cree Nation, but no one outside her immediate family noticed her missing until RCMP received a tip in March. A search of the garbage dump on the reserve, 150 kilometres north of Winnipeg, found a shallow grave and evidence of a small child.

Kematch and herboyfriend, Carl Wesley McKay, 43, were charged in March with first-degree murder, failing to provide the necessities of life, forcible confinement and assault with a weapon.

News of Phoenix's death, and the circumstances surrounding it, shocked Manitobans and prompted widespread reviews of the province's child welfare system this spring. Phoenix was in and out of foster care throughout her short life.