US woman to be sentenced after pleading guilty to child abuse that resulted in death

A Colorado mother who faked her seven-year-old daughter’s illnesses until she eventually died will be sentenced on Wednesday after she pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death.

Last month, Kelly Turner also admitted to charitable fraud and theft between $100,000 and $1m, according to prosecutors.

Turner’s daughter, Olivia Grant, died in the summer of 2017. The death was initially listed as intestinal failure, but an autopsy found no evidence of the condition. Authorities have not declared what killed her, but according to a 2019 indictment doctors went along with a do-not-resuscitate order that Turner had signed.

Other conditions that Turner also claimed her daughter had – including a seizure disorder, a tumor and a buildup of fluid in the cavities deep within her brain – were similarly not found in the autopsy.

“The manner of death is best certified as undetermined,” the coroner wrote.

Turner moved to Colorado from Texas with her three daughters, and beginning in 2012 told local doctors that Grant was sick with numerous ailments and diseases. She convinced medical professionals to perform surgeries and fill prescriptions for illnesses her daughter did not have.

Authorities say Turner spent years fabricating her daughter’s illness, gaining sympathy from television news stories and charitable foundations such as Make-A-Wish, which even threw a “bat princess” costume party for Grant at a hotel that cost $11,000.

Throughout Turner’s campaign to bring attention to her dying daughter, she sought donations to help fulfill Grant’s dreams of “catching a bad guy” with police and of being a firefighter. A video put out by a suburban Denver municipal government shows Olivia riding on a truck, putting out a dumpster fire and telling firefighters to stand for attention – all of which were met with the little girl’s smiles and laughter despite several medical tubes poking out of her backpack.

According to the indictment, Turner allegedly received over $538,000 in Medicaid benefits and from GoFundMe donors.

At Grant first ER visit, a doctor thought she appeared to be growing normally. But the next year, a surgeon at the same hospital removed part of her small intestine and inserted a feeding tube.

Before Grant was admitted to hospice care, where she died, doctors said she had only been receiving 30% of the required nutrition, according to the indictment.

Grant’s grandfather, Lonnie Gautreau, who, alongside Grant’s father filed a $25m lawsuit against the Colorado Children’s Hospital for mistreating Grant, recalled his granddaughter’s final moments.

“She opened her eyes and looked at me and recognized me and said, ‘Paw Paw, I’m hungry.’ She was hungry,” Gautreau said.

The case was resolved in August. A lawyer representing the grandparents said she could not comment further.

Psychiatrists say Turner’s behavior seems consistent with 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.

The disorder has increasingly been featured in popular movies and television series in recent years, including Sharp Objects, The Act and Run.

However, experts say these types of cases are not easy to detect. At one point, Turner herself brought up the syndrome during an interview with investigators. She denied she had it.

Associated Press contributed to this report


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