Addendum to these columns:

Denver Rocky Mountain News Saturday, April 21

Rebirthing team convicted: Two therapists face mandatory terms of 16 to 48 years in jail

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 in death.

... "Wait!" 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.

...Watkins, 54, 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 their arrogance."

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.

Prosecutors painted 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.

"They tell you it's psychodrama," Jensen said, rolling his eyes. "If that is drama, it has to be a Greek tragedy."