Defense begins in Killpack case

Date: 2005-10-03
Source: byumedia.org

Defense begins in Killpack case

By Peter Kranenburg
Daily Universe Staff Reporter
3 Oct 2005

Defense attorneys began their case Friday in the trial of a Springville couple accused of killing their 4-year-old daughter by forcing her to drink water to treat her behavioral disorders.

Richard Killpack, 37, and Jenette Killpack, 29, are accused of causing the death of their daughter after administering holding therapy to her on June 9, 2002. The two say they gave their daughter, Cassandra, the water under direction of holding-therapy specialists at the former Cascade Center for Family Growth in Orem as treatment for her Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).

State attorneys rested Friday morning after calling Springville police officer Reed Esklund to the stand. Esklund collected videotaped interviews the Killpacks gave on different news programs in June 2002 after their daughter’s death.

Esklund pointed out several inconsistencies between what the Killpacks told police and what they said on national television concerning Cassandra’s death. He said in the videotaped interviews the Killpacks said they only gave her 12 ounces of water when she was supposed to drink 24 ounces.

In one of the interviews, Jenette Killpack said she was shocked at the allegations of having restrained and forced Cassandra to drink water. She said that never happened and that she never had her other daughter help in restraining Cassandra.

The state already introduced into evidence a videotaped police interview of the Killpack’s other daughter as witness testimony in the case. In it, she said Cassandra was forced to drink water and she helped her parents tie Cassandra’s hands behind her back to help them make Cassandra drink.

Defense attorneys for the Killpacks began by calling on friends and family members of the Killpacks to testify.

Theresa Walker, a member of the Killpack’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ward, said Cassandra was reverent and behaved at church earlier on the day of her death. Walker teaches young children in the ward on Sundays. That Sunday all of the nearly 70 children in the ward went to the LDS Provo Temple with Walker and other members of the ward. Richard and Jenette Killpack helped at the activity.

Walker said Cassandra was “a darling little African-American girl.” She also said she did not see Richard or Jenette give Cassandra water.

Dan Burton, Jenette Killpack’s brother, told the jury he went with his wife to visit Richard and Jenette at the hospital the night Cassandra was admitted. He said they waited for a few hours before being able to see Cassandra. He also said the two were visibly upset about what had happened.

Once in the room with Cassandra, Burton said doctors told them Cassandra’s brain was swollen and she would most likely not recover. One of the doctors approached the Killpacks saying, “You killed your daughter,” and then asked what happened. Burton said the doctor was very insistent the Killpacks had either suffocated or drowned Cassandra and was very aggressive towards the Killpacks.

Burton said the Killpacks told him about Cassandra’s RAD condition. He said they told him they were seeing a therapist, but Burton did not know they were administering any type of therapy at the time.

Dr. Paul Jenkins, a clinical psychologist in Provo, worked with Cassandra and the Killpacks. Jenkins told the jury he diagnosed Cassandra with RAD and saw little progress with her. He said a main obstacle in working with Cassandra was that he knew very little about what Cassandra’s life was like before the Killpacks adopted her.

Jenkins described to the jury the various symptoms of RAD and the methods he uses to help children with the behavioral disorder. Jenkins said some progress was made, but Cassandra seriously regressed when the Killpacks adopted their third child. He said her behavioral problems were severely magnified as she began to defiantly urinate in front of her mother and smear her feces on the wall in the Killpack’s home.

He said that RAD children are very affectionate and open with strangers – people they barely know – yet refuse to attach to those who provide and care for them.

The trial was scheduled to continue into the first part of November but now looks to finish in mid-October. The trial continues Monday at 8:30 a.m.

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