A Colorado mother accused of murdering her 7-year-old “Make-a-Wish” daughter by pretending she had medical issues reached a plea deal with prosecutors on Monday, weeks before she was scheduled to stand trial.
Kelly Turner, 43, pleaded guilty to felony child abuse negligently causing death, felony theft and felony charitable fraud, according to the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office. Other charges, including murder, were dismissed per the agreement, spokesperson Vikki Migoya of the DA’s Office told NBC.
She faces up to 16 years in prison.
Turner was arrested in 2019 in connection to the 2017 death of her daughter Olivia Gant, whom Turner had claimed suffered from several diseases, including a seizure disorder and a buildup of fluid in cavities within her brain, according to the indictment.
At the time of her death, it was believed she had succumbed to her alleged condition and the official cause of death was ruled intestinal failure.
Authorities began their investigation after Turner claimed that her other teenage daughter had been diagnosed with cancer, which medical records showed was not true.
In 2018, Olivia’s body was exhumed as part of an investigation and found no signs of intestinal failure, according to the indictment. Officials also found no evidence that she suffered from any of the conditions that her mother had claimed she did.
In 2017, Olivia, who was fed through a feeding tube, was admitted to the Children’s Hospital Colorado, where doctors said she had nutritional deficiencies. She died weeks later after Turner decided to withdraw a feeding tube and to impose a “do not resuscitate” order, despite many doctors not believing she was terminally ill.
According to the indictment, Turner defrauded the Medicaid system of over $538,000, as well as two foundations that provide memorable experiences to terminally ill children. She’s also alleged to have stolen from both a funeral home and a cemetery that handled Olivia’s arrangements.
Olivia’s final months were covered extensively by local media outlets who covered what they believed to be a heart-touching tale of a terminally ill girl’s final “bucket list” of activities, according to KUSA.
Turner is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 9.