A Colorado mother pleaded not guilty this week to killing her 7-year-old daughter and faking the young girl’s terminal illness.
Kelly Turner entered the plea in court on Wednesday appearing from jail via video link, according to local station KCNC-TV.
Turner is facing charges of first-degree murder, child abuse, theft, charitable fraud, forgery and attempted influence of a public servant after authorities said she faked her daughter Olivia Gant’s illnesses for years. She is accused of taking advantage of donations and a “Make-A-Wish” charity event where Gant dressed as a “bat princess” and exclaimed that she was “going to battle Captain Hook and save others.”
But prosecutors contend that the real villain in the 7-year-old’s life may have been her own mother.
Turner claimed her daughter suffered from neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy, which she said caused her daughter to have intestinal failure. However, doctors often questioned her medical claims, calling Turner a “high maintenance mother,” according to an indictment obtained by KMGH-TV.
One pediatric gastrointestinal doctor at Children’s Hospital said that Gant “did not exhibit the symptoms described most of the time.”
Over a five-year period beginning in 2012, Gant endured surgeries and more than 1,000 medical visits before her August 2017 death, KCNC reports.
Turner ultimately withdrew all of her daughter’s care and put a “do not resuscitate” order in place, KUSA reports.
Authorities became suspicious of Turner’s actions after she falsely claimed another daughter had cancer — even though medical records showed that not to be true.
After Gant died, authorities exhumed the young girl’s body and performed an autopsy, but were unable to determine the cause of death.
Along with the murder allegations, Turner is also accused of defrauding the Medicaid system of more than $538,000 and accepting donations from the community and charitable organizations under false pretenses. Authorities also claim she ripped off the funeral home and cemetery after Gant’s death, according to the indictment obtained by KUSA.
A grand jury returned the 13-count indictment against Turner in October of 2019, according to a statement from the Douglas County Sheriff.
She is currently being held in jail on a $250,000 bond while awaiting trial, which is scheduled to begin in May.
Turner has had other past legal troubles. She was arrested in 1998 for aggravated sexual assault on a child, according to court records obtained by KCNC. She accepted a deal in that case that allowed her to plead guilty to felony injury of child. She spent several years in prison before being released.
Turner also had convictions for impersonating an emergency medical technician, forgery and violating her probation, the station reports.
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