Resolution to child endangerment case : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread

After the lengthy and heated debate that this type of thread created on the Wild West I probably shouldn't post this, but for those that were interested back then here is the resolution of the Iowa case where the mother left child in her car resulting in the child's death.

Crime & Courts

NOT GUILTY Engholm simply forgot her child, judge decides By APRIL GOODWIN Register Staff Writer 12/11/2001 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Adel, Ia. - Kari Engholm said Monday that she would never judge anyone again.

"I know that people have judged us for what has happened and will continue to judge," she said at a news conference outside the Dallas County Courthouse in Adel. "I will never judge anyone ever again by what they do or how they look. . . . Only God can judge."

Minutes later, an unidentified woman yelled across the courtyard at Engholm, "Murderer! She's a murderer!"

Dallas County District Judge Paul R. Huscher acquitted Engholm Monday of felony neglect of a dependent and involuntary manslaughter, a misdemeanor.

Huscher said in his written verdict that Dallas County Attorney Wayne Reisetter had failed to prove that Engholm knew she left her child in the van and that such an act might harm her child. Huscher, who heard the case after Engholm waived her right to a jury trial, said Reisetter also had failed to prove Engholm willfully disregarded Clare's safety.

"Forgetting is an involuntary process that cannot be knowingly or recklessly done. A person either forgets or remembers," Huscher wrote. "Whether it should be condemned or condoned is not the point. The fact is, Kari Engholm forgot."

Reisetter charged Engholm, a Perry hospital executive, after Engholm forgot her 7-month-old daughter in the back of her minivan. Clare Engholm died of hyperthermia, or elevated body temperature, about noon on June 26. Kari Engholm did not discover her mistake until she picked up her 31/2-year-old son, Eric, from child care about 5:45 p.m. Engholm testified that she forgot her baby in the course of a hectic day that involved a change in routine.

"I think over and over what I could have done differently that day," Engholm said.

Engholm's attorney, Ron Wheeler, said he was happy to have some closure to such tragedy.

Engholm's appearance before reporters after her acquittal Monday was her only public appearance since Clare's death during which she almost smiled and did not cry.

"We're pleased with Judge Huscher's decision," Engholm said. "We're pleased that he saw this for what it was - a heartbreaking accident."

Engholm said that when Wheeler called Monday morning to tell her the verdict, she was both happy and sad.

"It was bittersweet, because now I can get on with my life, and so can my family, but we still miss Clare so much," Engholm said. "Some days, it's difficult to get out of bed, but I know I'm needed here. . . . Eric needs me. My family needs me."

Engholm's husband, Dennis, stood by her side at the news conference, just as he had comforted her during wrenching testimony last week.

"When you get married, it's for better or worse," he said Monday.

The couple said they talk with Eric about Clare's death, but the boy didn't understand the court proceedings.

Engholm said she had not decided whether she would return to her job as chief executive officer of Dallas County Hospital or what the future might bring.

"We are taking things one day at a time," she said. "We need more time to decide what our future plans are."

Dallas County Hospital Board spokesman Joe Emmerson said Engholm's position would continue to be filled by an interim executive through Dec. 31. The board will make a decision about the position at that time, he said.

Reisetter, the county attorney, said that he charged Engholm in response to his concern for the welfare of children, but that it was a difficult case. Reisetter said he was not surprised or disappointed by the verdict and would have done nothing differently in hindsight.

Kari Engholm said Reisetter "must have thought he was doing what was appropriate."

Reporter April Goodwin can be reached

at (515) 284-8360


The charges against Kari Engholm

NEGLECT OF A DEPENDENT PERSON: A Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. To obtain a conviction on this charge, a prosecutor must prove a person either (a) knowingly or recklessly exposed a child to a hazard or danger from which the child could not protect himself or herself or (b) deserted or abandoned a child, knowing or having reason to believe the child would be in danger.

AT ISSUE: Whether Kari Engholm abandoned her child in the van.

VERDICT: Not guilty.

DALLAS COUNTY DISTRICT JUDGE PAUL R. HUSCHER'S REASON: Failure to prove that Engholm "relinquished, surrendered, gave up or deserted her child."

INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER: An aggravated misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years in prison. To obtain a conviction on this charge, a prosecutor must prove a person unintentionally caused the death of another by doing something likely to cause death or serious injury.

AT ISSUE: What Engholm did to cause her daughter's death, whether that action was reckless and whether she knew it was dangerous but did it anyway with a disregard for the consequences.

VERDICT: Not guilty.

HUSCHER'S REASON: Failure to prove that Engholm acted with a willful disregard for consequences and that she knew her action presented risk of harm to her daughter.

-- Jack Booted Thug (, December 12, 2001


Well, she didn't mean to do it. She has to live with it. The world isn't a more dangerous place because she's been acquitted.

I think she would have wanted a babysitter prosecuted for doing that to her baby, though. The reason would be that it was the babysitter's job to make sure the child was safe. Babysitters and foster parents usually are prosecuted when they do exactly the same thing. I wonder how a parent could be held less culpable than a different care giver.

-- helen (baby@alarms.are.still.a.good.idea), December 12, 2001.

Thanks for the update. The ruling makes sense.

-- (ding@ding.ding), December 12, 2001.

Good people fuck up. Sometimes, as here, it costs a big stack of chips but per the jury we're talking about a basically good person.

-- Carlos (, December 13, 2001.

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