Therapy-death Jury Can Hear of Previous Abuse Allegations

Therapy-death Jury Can Hear of Previous Abuse Allegations

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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- A judge has ruled that the jurors who will hear the case of a Springville couple accused of causing their 4-year-old daughter's death by forcing her to drink too much water may be told about previous allegations of child abuse.

Fourth District Court Judge Claudia Laycock ruled Thursday that the allegations cannot be used to prove guilt in this case but can be used to establish a pattern of behavior for the defendants, Richard and Jennete Killpack.

The Killpacks are charged with child-abuse homicide and child abuse in the 2002 death of their 4-year-old adopted daughter, Cassandra.

The allegations include testimony from the Killpacks' 7-year-old daughter that Jennete Killpack bound Cassandra's arms behind her with rope. In a separate incident, Jennete Killpack allegedly struck Cassandra on the head with a metal object, causing her to bleed.

Prosecutors say the Killpacks caused Cassandra's death by forcing her to drink excess amounts of water after she was caught stealing her older sister's drink.

The Killpacks have said they were following advice from therapists at the Cascade Center for Family Growth in Orem when they administered the punishment.

Therapists have denied issuing such advice.

Defense attorneys contend the couple did not act recklessly and were unaware that their actions could harm the child.

The Utah County Attorney's Office concluded that the Cascade Center and its therapists had no wrongdoing in the death of Cassandra Killpack.

Jury selection is set for Sept. 12.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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