Mother Convicted Of Forcing Girl To Overdose On Water
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 20, 2005
PROVO, UTAH--Cassandra Killpack literally drank herself to death.
And last week a jury concluded that the killer was none other than her adoptive mother, who punished the 4-year-old on June 9, 2002 by tying the girl's hands behind her back and making her drink a lethal amount of water.
The eight-member jury found Jennete Killpack, 29, guilty of second-degree child abuse homicide after hearing testimony that Mrs. Killpack and her husband, Richard, had received advice from a treatment program to treat Cassandra's "misbehavior" by giving her what she wanted -- but to give her so much it would be uncomfortable.
The Cascade Center for Family Growth, which has since closed, had subjected the girl to a week of intense treatment that, according to her father, on one day involved therapists tickling her for up to 45 minutes, and on another day forcing her to jump up and down for nearly 3 straight hours.
The theory reportedly was that the aversive treatment would cause Cassandra, who was diagnosed with "reactive attachment disorder", to "bond" with her new mother.
Mr. Killpack, 37, also told police that the couple had tried the water punishment once before and found that 32 ounces, or one quart, was too much for the girl because it caused her to vomit.
Prosecutors claimed that Mrs. Killpack forced the girl to drink between one and two gallons of water as punishment for taking a sip of juice from a sibling's cup. The large amount of water caused Cassandra's sodium levels to fall, and her brain to then swell to a lethal size within her skull.
Jurors also heard that Mrs. Killpack had earlier choked her daughter and had hit her in the head with a metal spoon. On the day Cassandra died, her mother had bit the girl above one of her eyes, testimony revealed.
Jennete Killpack could face up to 15 years in prison when she is sentenced on December 7.
This week, members of the jury told reporters from the Salt Lake Tribune that they were not able to convict Richard Killpack of any crime because the only crime they were allowed to consider was second-degree homicide -- the same as his wife. Some jurors said they did believe he was guilty of abuse, but that he actually stopped his wife from giving the girl more water, so was not guilty of murder.
"Killpack jurors split the verdict" (Salt Lake Tribune)
"Lenient term is sought for mom" (Deseret News)
"Killpack dad guilty, jurors say But a child-abuse conviction was not an option" (Salt Lake Tribune)