Addendum to these columns:
Denver Rocky Mountain
News Saturday, April 21
convicted: Two therapists face mandatory terms of 16 to 48 years in
Two Evergreen therapists
sobbed as they were led to jail in handcuffs Friday night after a jury
found them guilty in the rebirthing death of 10-year-old Candace Newmaker.
An emotional Jefferson County District Court jury took about five hours
to convict Connell Watkins and Julie Ponder of child abuse resulting
yelled Watkins, holding off a Jefferson County Sheriff's deputy so she
could hug her daughter, Teka Cooil, who screamed, "No!" as
her mother was taken away. Ponder removed her necklace and her purse
and hugged her boyfriend while supporters cried.
On the other side
of the courtroom, Candace's grandmother, Mary Davis, wept with joy.
Friday was a year and a day after Candace died following the experimental
therapy. "Justice for Candace," Davis said.
and Ponder, 40, face a mandatory 16 to 48 years in prison when they
are sentenced by Judge Jane Tidball on June 18.
... "I don't
think Candace Newmaker died because of their ignorance," said sheriff's
investigator Diane Obbema. "I believe she was killed because of
In closing arguments
Friday morning, defense attorneys for Watkins and Ponder characterized
them as caring therapists who are willing to take on the troubled children
traditional practices can't reach.
them as "monsters" who replied with callousness to the cries
of a little girl who was slowly suffocating.
"This was done
as therapy," said Joan Heller, Ponder's lawyer. "This was
done with all the best intentions. Something went wrong, and we don't
know what went wrong."
Not so, said prosecutor
Laura Dunbar, pointing directly at the two women seated at the defense
table. "Candace Newmaker died a slow, agonizing and torturous death,
and these two defendants caused it," Dunbar said.
The jury also had
two other conviction choices: criminally negligent child abuse resulting
in death, punishable by a possible four to 16 years, and child abuse
resulting in bodily injury, which is a misdemeanor.
Jensen scoffed at the therapists' "witchcraft" and the use of "psychodrama," essentially play-acting an abuser's role so the child may bring up repressed feelings.
you it's psychodrama," Jensen said, rolling his eyes. "If
that is drama, it has to be a Greek tragedy."