A Colorado mother accused of murdering her young daughter after falsely claiming the girl was severely ill — and making her the recipient of charitable donations from organizations such as the “Make-A-Wish Foundation” — has pleaded not guilty.
During a virtual court hearing on Wednesday, a lawyer for Kelly Renee Turner, 43, of Douglas County, entered the not guilty plea on her behalf, the Denver Post reports.
Wearing a mask and orange jumpsuit, Turner said little during her court appearance, which was linked by video to the Douglas County Detention Facility where she is being held in lieu of $250,000, CBS Denver reports.
The charges came after Turner’s daughter, 7-year-old Olivia Gant, who became known as “Batgirl” after she dressed up for a Make-A-Wish event, died in 2017 of what Turner claimed was intestinal failure.
In 2019, she was charged with first-degree murder, child abuse, theft, charitable fraud, attempt to influence a public servant and second-degree forgery, online jail records show.
Her three-week trial is scheduled to begin on May 3, 2021.
Starting in 2012, Turner began saying that her daughter was ill.
Eventually she claimed that her daughter had been diagnosed with neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy, which caused her to have intestinal failure.
On a GoFundMe page she launched that raised nearly $23,000, Turner wrote her daughter was born prematurely and suffered from autism, seizure disorder, developmental delays and a tumor, among other health problems.
The two received widespread media attention for Olivia’s “bucket list” of last wishes, including riding in a police patrol car and spraying water on a fire as a firefighter.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation and DaVita Inc., a Denver-based dialysis company, helped Olivia dress up as “Bat Princess” to save the Disney princesses Bella and Ariel.
Investigators began looking into the case in 2018 after Turner brought her other daughter to the hospital saying she was suffering from “bone pain” from cancer, according to an indictment obtained by 9 News.
Authorities exhumed Olivia’s body in 2018. An autopsy showed no evidence that she died of intestinal failure, according to an indictment against Turner.
The cause of death was inconclusive, however.
The indictment alleges that Turner stopped her medical care in the girl’s final weeks, allowing her to die, 9 News reports.
The indictment shows that several of the girl’s doctors told investigators they did not believe Olivia’s medical problems were terminal.
It also shows that during the investigation, Turner herself allegedly brought up to police Munchausen by proxy syndrome, where a caretaker exaggerates or induces illness in a child for attention and sympathy.
According to the indictment, Turner allegedly admitted to fabricating the second child’s cancer but maintained she had been telling the truth about Olivia.
Turner is also accused of defrauding the Medicaid system of more than $538,000, the indictment says, 9 News reports.
Her attorney did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
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