An SF Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that the Hunters Point mother accused of killing her two young daughters can be charged with felony murder, but prosecutors may hit a snag because the children's cause of death is still not determined.

That awful story of two young children, ages 22 months old and five years old, being found dead in a closet in their Hunters Point home on December 23, seemed like an open-and-shut case, from a legal standpoint, at least. The 34-year-old mother Paulesha Green-Pulliam was initially charged with two counts of murder after the grisly discovery. While she pleaded not guilty and there are certainly some demonstrable mental health issues involved, Green-Pulliam also admitted to the killings, which would seem to make things easier for prosecutors to secure convictions.

Green-Pulliam’s public defender Phoenix Streets has pushed back, suggesting that she may not be competent to stand trial because of postpartum psychosis, having lost a newborn son who died during childbirth in September. But the Chronicle reports a Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that, for the moment, she can stand trial for two felony murder charges, which prosecutors are expected to pursue.

But an unusual complication also came to light at Thursday’s hearing. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has still not determined the two girls’ cause of death. Multiple officers testified that the girls both had a “foam-like substance” coming from their mouths, but toxicology reports have not found any evidence of drugs in their systems. One officer testified that the girls had spots of bleeding in their eyes, which is considered consistent with strangulation. And that same officer also testified, per the Chronicle, that they had “located a small, thick cloth in the back of one of the girls’ mouths that was holding back the child’s tongue.” But still, the lack of an official cause of death could prove a troublesome complication for prosecutors trying to secure two murder convictions.

Still, there are other factors that could render that moot. The girls were discovered in a closet with their personal keepsakes arranged around them (along with a sonogram of the deceased infant boy), which indicates premeditation. The words  “Jesus saves forgives” were scrawled on the house’s walls, which may indicate guilt and a request for forgiveness. And prosecutors have Green-Pulliam’s own words on the record, wherein she claimed the girls were “being sex trafficked” and she added, “I should have let that happen rather than take their life.”

“It’s easy for me to say this is one of the saddest cases I’ve ever worked on,” assistant DA Omid Talai said in court Thursday. “It’s even easier for me to say that these two kids are dead at the hands of [Ms.] Green-Pulliam. She said she took their lives. That isn’t a phrase that could have multiple meanings.”

But Green-Pulliam’s defense argued that her mental state makes those statements “vague and meaningless at best,” and added that further arguments she’s not competent to stand trial are “something we’re looking into.” We may hear more about that at Green-Pulliam’s next court appearance, which is currently scheduled for March 2.

Related: San Francisco Mother Accused of Killing Two Young Daughters Enters Not-Guilty Plea [SFist]

Image: Kevin Y. via Yelp