Judge Says Killpack Poses Threat To Her Other Children
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 16, 2006
PROVO, UTAH--Jennete Killpack will stay in jail while she appeals her homicide conviction related to forcing her 4-year-old adopted daughter to drink a lethal amount of water.
On February 3, Fourth District Court Judge Claudia Laycock rejected Killpack's request to be released, saying that she might pose a danger to her four living children, and that the issues in her appeal have little chance of causing the conviction to be overturned.
Killpack, 30, was sentenced in early January to between one and 15 years in prison after a jury found her guilty of felony second-degree child abuse homicide for killing her daughter Cassandra. The exact length of her incarceration will be up to the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.
In the trial that ended in October, prosecutors told the jury Cassandra's parents punished her for "misbehavior" on June 9, 2002 by forcing her to stand on a bar stool with her hands tied behind her back, and making her drink a toxic amount of water.
Mrs. Killpack and her husband, Richard, had received advice from a now-closed treatment program to treat Cassandra's "reactive attachment disorder" by giving her what she wanted -- but to give her so much it would be uncomfortable for her. The theory behind the approach was that this would cause her to "bond" with her new mother.
Prosecutors said Killpack forced the girl to drink more than a gallon of water as punishment for taking a sip of juice from her baby sister's cup. The large amount of water caused Cassandra's sodium levels to fall, and her brain to then swell within her skull.
Mr. Killpack was acquitted of the same charges.
Mrs. Killpack's defense attorney, Michael Esplin, claimed in his appeal that the couple had no idea Cassandra could die from water intoxication, that there were a number of errors in the trial, that testimony about prior instances of child abuse should not have been allowed, and that the jury should have heard that Utah law allows parents to seek reasonable alternative medical treatment for their children.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Esplin is also challenging a videotaped police interview of Cassandra's older sister used as evidence, and a pre-sentence report he claimed was biased against his client.