Jurors in Killpack Case Regret Having to Free Husband

Jurors in Killpack Case Regret Having to Free Husband

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OREM, Utah (AP) -- Jurors who convicted Jennete Killpack of child-abuse homicide regret having to let her husband, Richard, go free.

Jurors told the Deseret Morning News they intensely disliked the split-verdict decision but did not have enough evidence to convict him of the charges.

"We wished there had been two separate charges -- one for child abuse homicide and one for child abuse," one told the newspaper. "If there had been, the verdict would have been different. Richard Killpack would have been guilty of child abuse."

The jury returned the verdicts Tuesday night.

Jennete Killpack was convicted of the second-degree felony, punishable by one to 15 years in prison. Prosecutors alleged she forced the couple's adopted 4-year-old daughter, Cassandra, to drink large amounts of water because she sneaked a drink of juice from her 1-year-old sister's cup, causing her death on June 9, 2002.

Prosecutors said the victim was forced to drink one to two gallons of water. Jennete Killpack said it was no more than 20 ounces and that she was unaware that excess water could hurt the girl.

Seven of the eight jurors issued a statement saying that the forced drinking occurred before Richard Killpack returned home, and he, therefore, could not be convicted of homicide. The eighth juror was out of state on vacation.

Five of the jurors, who wish to remain anonymous, met Sunday with the News, which reported their comments in a copyright story in Monday's editions.

"We really want to send a message to the prosecutors, the defense team, the defendants, their friends and families, especially, to let them know we didn't absolve Richard of all guilt. It was a technicality that spared him, it really was," one juror said.

"Determining the cause of death was the first thing we did," one juror said. "The evidence was overwhelming that it was too much water. The experts explained that beyond any doubt."

"We all agreed water killed her and that Rick had nothing to do with the water that night," a juror said.

The jurors were frustrated there was no charge they could use to convict Richard Killpack, even though they believed they had enough evidence to convict him of child abuse.

Prosecutors initially also charged the Killpacks with child abuse for emotional suffering that prosecutors said Cassandra's 7-year-old sister suffered because her mother sent her to get rope to tie Cassandra's hands behind her back.

Judge James Taylor dismissed the abuse charge after a preliminary hearing, ruling prosecutors hadn't proved severe emotional trauma.

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

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