Medical Examiner: Child Swallowed 2.5 Liters of Water Before Death

Medical Examiner: Child Swallowed 2.5 Liters of Water Before Death

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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Cassandra Killpack must have swallowed at least 2.5 liters of water at a single time to develop the brain swelling that killed her June 9, 2002, the state chief medical examiner testified.

Dr. Todd Grey testified Tuesday at the preliminary hearing of the child's adoptive parents that it was the only case of water intoxication he has seen in his 20-year medical career.

He said that despite other injuries on the girl's body, there was no other explanation for her death.

Richard Killpack, 35, and his wife, Jennete, 27, are charged with child abuse homicide and child abuse.

Prosecutors allege that the Killpacks forced Cassandra to drink massive amounts of water as punishment for taking her younger sister's drink.

Testimony is expected to conclude Thursday, after which 4th District Judge James Taylor will decide if there is enough evidence to order the defendants to stand trial.

On Monday, the court saw videotaped police interview in which the couple's 7-year-old biological daughter said her mother had tied up the screaming 4-year-old and poured water down her throat.

She said Cassandra had drunk juice intended for their 1-year-old sister.

"I said, `You'll have to go to Mom and do the drinking-water thing,' " 7-year-old Heather Nicole Killpack told the officer.

Heather said Jennete Killpack tied Cassandra's hands behind her back and tried to force her to drink. At one point, Heather said, Cassandra fell off a wet, slippery barstool onto the floor, and Jennete Killpack slammed the girl back onto the seat.

Later, Heather said, Richard Killpack held Cassandra while Jennete Killpack tried again to get her to drink. "She was spitting water in Mom's face," Heather said.

Cassandra vomited and was told by her parents to clean up the mess, Heather said. Instead, she complained of a headache and "all of a sudden she lay down."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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