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Munchausen by proxy mom pleads guilty to theft, fraud and child abuse in plea deal

Kelly Turner, 42, reached a plea deal Wednesday and had her murder charges dropped in the 2017 killing of her seven-year-old daughter

A Colorado mother accused of killing her daughter after withdrawing all medical care reached a plea deal Wednesday in exchange for having the murder charges dropped.

Kelly Turner, 42, instead admitted to taking part in felony theft, felony charity fraud and child abuse negligently causing death, according to the district attorney’s office of the 18th Judicial District.    

She previously pleaded not guilty to the 2017 murder of her seven-year-old daughter Olivia Gant.

A lawyer entered the plea on Turner’s behalf during a virtual court hearing on December 15 from suburban Denver, Colorado.

Back in 2019, Turner was indicted with two counts of first-degree murder – two years after her daughter’s death – due to Colorado law, which adds another charge when someone in a position of trust kills a child under the age of 12.

One doctor told investigators that Turner wanted to withdraw all medical care and artificial feeding for her daughter because her quality of life was so bad.

Another advised Turner to stop giving her daughter anti-seizure medicine, which carried serious side effects, The Denver Gazette reported. 

A doctor told investigators that Turner wanted to withdraw all medical care and artificial feeding for her daughter because her quality of life was so bad before revealing that the mother had insisted that he sign a 'do not resuscitate' order for her daughter

A doctor told investigators that Turner wanted to withdraw all medical care and artificial feeding for her daughter because her quality of life was so bad before revealing that the mother had insisted that he sign a ‘do not resuscitate’ order for her daughter

As per the agreement, Turner admitted to taking part in felony theft, felony charity fraud and child abuse negligently causing death, according to the district attorney's office of the 18th Judicial District (pictured at a charity event)

As per the agreement, Turner admitted to taking part in felony theft, felony charity fraud and child abuse negligently causing death, according to the district attorney’s office of the 18th Judicial District (pictured at a charity event)

He also said the mother had insisted that he sign a ‘do not resuscitate’ order for her daughter, which prevents doctors from attempting CPR if Olivia’s heart stopped.

Doctors had said Olivia wouldn’t be able to survive on IV nutrition, and Turner was given the option of taking her home on hospice care, according to the indictment. 

After Turner denied the offer, Olivia died just weeks later. 

The murder charges were accompanied by 10 others related to her swindling Medicaid, hospitals and charities, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Olivia was originally thought to have died as a result of her illnesses after Turner claimed the little girl suffered from a rare and fatal disease as well as seizures, autism, severe allergies and intestinal failure. 

However, authorities began investigating the young girl’s death after doctors became suspicious when Turner allegedly began claiming that her other daughter also had medical problems, according to the indictment, which had been released in October 2019 after a year-long investigation.

When Turner brought Olivia’s older sister – whose name was redacted in the court documents, according to CNN – to Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, she claimed that she had been treated for cancer when the family lived in Texas.

Doctors later confirmed that was not true, and the indictment revealed that upon further research, medical professionals found social media posts and news stories where Turner claimed her eldest daughter suffered from bone pain, and various other medical conditions, that were not supported by medical records.

Turner created a GoFundMe page for Olivia in 2015 which raised more than $22,000

Turner created a GoFundMe page for Olivia in 2015 which raised more than $22,000

Turner's two murder charges were accompanied by 10 others related to her swindling Medicaid, hospitals and charities, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Make-A-Wish even provided the young girl with an $11,000 'bat princess' costume party

Turner’s two murder charges were accompanied by 10 others related to her swindling Medicaid, hospitals and charities, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Make-A-Wish even provided the young girl with an $11,000 ‘bat princess’ costume party

The investigation began when Turner brought Olivia's older sister - whose name was redacted in the court documents - to the hospital claiming that she had been treated for cancer when the family lived in Texas. Doctors later confirmed that wasn't true

The investigation began when Turner brought Olivia’s older sister – whose name was redacted in the court documents – to the hospital claiming that she had been treated for cancer when the family lived in Texas. Doctors later confirmed that wasn’t true

Olivia’s actual cause of death has not been revealed, yet it was originally attributed to intestinal failure. 

That cause of death was later changed to ‘undetermined’ after her body was exhumed and an autopsy was conducted as part of the investigation, which found no physical evidence of an intestinal illness or other conditions that Turner claimed the girl had suffered from.

The indictment also claimed that Turner – also known as Kelly Gant – forbid Olivia to undergo medical care, arguing that the humane thing to do was to stop treatment and allow her daughter to die because her quality of life was so poor. 

Weeks later, in August 2017, Olivia died of what was originally thought to be intestinal failure.

Meanwhile, Turner’s efforts to fulfill her daughter’s ‘bucket list’ of dreams before she died drew publicity and donations, including an $11,000 ‘bat princess’ costume party provided by the Make-A-Wish-Foundation. 

The mother-of-two was later accused of defrauding the Medicaid system of more than $538,000 and ripping off several other charities and fundraising platforms, including a GoFundMe page that raised $22,000. 

There had also been a local bake sale held for Olivia and a ‘Night for the Gant Girls’ at Chick-Fil-A in response to the GoFundMe, which Turner created in 2015 and had frequently updated with news of Olivia’s ‘illnesses’.

In the updates she claimed that her daughter started having medical issues at nine months old and as of November 2014, had ‘endured numerous hospital stays, surgeries, treatments, invasive testing just to sustain living’.

News of Olivia's illness gained the sympathy of multiple charity organizations and was the 'Bat Princess' for a day, a Denver cop and spent the day as a firefighter as one of her final wishes

News of Olivia’s illness gained the sympathy of multiple charity organizations and was the ‘Bat Princess’ for a day, a Denver cop and spent the day as a firefighter as one of her final wishes

Turner's efforts to fulfill her daughter's 'bucket list' of dreams before she died drew publicity and donations

Turner’s efforts to fulfill her daughter’s ‘bucket list’ of dreams before she died drew publicity and donations

One of Olivia's 'bucket list' wishes was to be a police officer for the day, so before she died cops took her on a patrol

One of Olivia’s ‘bucket list’ wishes was to be a police officer for the day, so before she died cops took her on a patrol 

‘A few months ago, Olivia added a new diagnosis to her already long list. Which includes hydrocephalus, autism, seizure disorder, motility issues, sensory processing disorder, AV vascular malformation, focal cortico dysplasia, tumor on the paratiod gland and developmental delays,’ Turner wrote.

‘This diagnosis however doesn’t come with a cure, with treatments to prevent or a promise of life. This diagnosis Neurogastrointestinal Encephalomyopathy.’ 

According to the indictment, Turner spontaneously brought up Munchausen Syndrome by proxy – a psychological disorder in which parents or caregivers seek attention from the illness of their children or dependents and sometimes cause them injuries that require treatment – while being questioned by investigators but denied that she had it.

The disorder was made infamous by the Gypsy Rose Blanchard case in 2015 – which has been turned into several films and TV shows – in which Dee Dee Blanchard claimed her daughter Gypsy Rose suffered from leukemia and kept her confined to a wheelchair, despite not actually being ill.

Turner said during questioning: ‘That has never been my case, like at all, whatsoever. You can talk to anyone that stood by my side through … all of this.’

Investigators said Olivia had been using a feeding tube and was admitted to Children’s Hospital Colorado in July 2017, and doctors said her nutrition was deficient. 

FAKING IT: WHAT IS MUNCHAUSEN’S?

Munchausen’s syndrome is a psychological disorder where someone pretends to be ill or deliberately produces symptoms of illness in themselves.

Their main intention is to assume the ‘sick role’ so that people care for them and they are the centre of attention.

Any practical benefit in pretending to be sick – for example, claiming incapacity benefit – is not the reason for their behaviour.

Munchausen’s syndrome is named after a German aristocrat, Baron Munchausen, who became famous for telling wild, unbelievable tales about his exploits.

Munchausen’s syndrome is complex and poorly understood. Many people refuse psychiatric treatment or psychological profiling, and it’s unclear why people with the syndrome behave the way they do. 

People with Munchausen’s syndrome can behave in a number of different ways, including:

  • pretending to have psychological symptoms – for example, claiming to hear voices or claiming to see things that are not really there
  • pretending to have physical symptoms – for example, claiming to have chest pain or a stomach ache
  • actively trying to get ill – such as deliberately infecting a wound by rubbing dirt into it

Some people with Munchausen’s syndrome may spend years travelling from hospital to hospital faking a wide range of illnesses. When it’s discovered they’re lying, they may suddenly leave hospital and move to another area.

People with Munchausen’s syndrome can be very manipulative and, in the most serious cases, may undergo painful and sometimes life-threatening surgery, even though they know it’s unnecessary.

DIAGNOSIS 

Diagnosing Munchausen’s syndrome can be challenging for medical professionals.

People with the syndrome are often very convincing and skilled at manipulating and exploiting doctors.

TREATMENT 

Treating Munchausen’s syndrome can be difficult because most people with it refuse to admit they have a problem and refuse to co-operate with treatment plans.

Some experts recommend that healthcare professionals should adopt a gentle non-confrontational approach, suggesting the person may benefit from a referral to a psychiatrist.

Others argue that a person with Munchausen’s syndrome should be confronted directly and asked why they’ve lied and whether they have stress and anxiety.

People who have Munchausen’s are genuinely mentally ill, but will often only admit to having a physical illness.

If a person admits to their behaviour, they can be referred to a psychiatrist for further treatment. If they do not admit to lying, most experts agree the doctor in charge of their care should minimise medical contact with them.

This is because the doctor-patient relationship is based on trust and if there’s evidence the patient can no longer be trusted, the doctor is unable to continue treating them.

SOURCE: NHS 

 

 

 


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