Defense Appeals Ruling in Water Therapy Death Case

Defense Appeals Ruling in Water Therapy Death Case

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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Attorneys for a Springville couple accused of forcing their 4-year-old adopted daughter to drink water until she died have appealed district court judges' interpretation of the state's child-abuse homicide statute.

They asked the Utah Court of Appeals to overturn rulings of two 4th District Court judges who held there was sufficient evidence to order Richard and Jennete Killpack to stand trial.

Attorneys Mike Esplin and Phil Danielson argue that the statute requires a level of recklessness that a reasonable person ought to realize could cause death.

They contend the Killpacks had no understanding of the danger of forcing their daughter to drink about two quarts of water.

Prosecutors allege the Killpacks forced the girl to drink water as punishment for taking her 7-year-old sister's drink. The couple claimed the forced drinking was on advice of therapists at a family center. The center denied advocating such discipline.

The appeal was filed Monday and a court conference that had been set for Thursday was canceled.

If the appeals court decides to consider the issue, it could be a year or more before it hands down its decision.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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