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Faith Healing Murder Headed to Court, Child Dies After Being Forced to Drink Huge Amount of Water
Aired September 5, 2003 - 19:24 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back.
Two high-profile cases involving alleged child abuse are winding their way through the courts.
A Milwaukee minister faces a preliminary hearing next week in connection with the death of an 8-year-old autistic boy during a prayer service.
And there was a status conference in Utah today involving a couple charged with forcing their 4-year-old daughter to drink a lethal amount of water. Prosecutors say 4-year-old Cassandra Killpack (ph) died after being forced to drink 2.5 liters of water, causing her brain to swell.
Joining us to discuss these cases, Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, an assistant district attorney in San Francisco.
Kimberly, good to see you now. The minister, let's talk about this autistic boy case first. Minister's name is Ray Hemphill. He's the only one charged with a crime. How surprising is that to you?
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE NEWSOM, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SAN FRANCISCO: It's very surprising to me and it's also very disturbing. I'm really passionate about this case.
I think it is so inappropriate that the mother and two other women that were present during this faith healing that caused this young boy's death were not charged by the D.A.'s office. I really see no legal distinction between the conduct that they engaged in and that of the minister, who is the sole person charged in this case.
COOPER: Why do you think prosecutors made that decision, to just go for Hemphill? Or do you think they might amend it later on and go after the mother, after these two other people?
NEWSOM: They absolutely have the right to amend it and add charges against the mother and two other women that were involved in this. I think sometimes that, unfortunately, prosecutors can make emotional decisions.
There's a mother who's grieving. She was trying to act in the best interest of what she believed was the situation that would produce healing results for her son that suffered from autism and other behavioral problems, and in this case it produced tragic results. COOPER: Also...
NEWSOM: Again, there's no legal distinction in her conduct. She was participatory.
COOPER: Right. And it's felony child abuse, is the charge, not a more serious charge like homicide.
NEWSOM: That's correct. Again, the prosecutors choosing to, after weighing the case carefully -- they did say they looked to bring a homicide charge, decided not to do it in this case, citing problems with intent issues.
But nevertheless, when you engage in conduct like this that is dangerous and likely to cause significant bodily harm or death, a homicide charge is appropriate. And they could have gone that route in this case.
COOPER: Then there was this status conference in this other case, in Utah today, regarding this child who was forced to drink a large of amount of water or allegedly forced to drink a large amount of water, water intoxification death. I mean, it's a very rare thing.
Because it is so rare, how do prosecutors go about trying to figure out what charges to bring severity of charges?
NEWSOM: These are tough cases. It's a case largely of first impression. There's only been about half a dozen incidents like this in the country to date. There's another case, actually, in Florida that's quite similar, where a baby-sitter did the same thing. And she is charged with first-degree murder in that case.
Here we do not see the same results. However, the D.A.'s office is deciding whether or not they are going to elevate the charges to homicide, instead of just homicide through child abuse or child abuse charges. And I think it would be appropriate in this case.
COOPER: All right.
NEWSOM: They've done this also before, keep in mind.
COOPER: All right. We'll be watching to see what happens. Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, thanks very much.
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Being Forced to Drink Huge Amount of Water>