Botzet family
Was 11-year-old Ariel sick or was her death a murder? Las Vegas prosecutors charge that her mother's alleged neglect of her sick child was equivalent to murder.
By Rob Stafford Correspondent
NBC News
updated 1/30/2006 12:24:39 AM ET 2006-01-30T05:24:39

Everyone in this story will agree on one thing: 11-year-old Ariel Botzet was much too young to die. Ariel’s death traumatized the Botzet family even more when they were told the cause of death— homicide.

Rob Stafford, Dateline correspondent:  Can you tell me about the last moment you had with your daughter?

Cheryl Botzet, Ariel's mother:  I was reading her favorite book to her and rubbing her feet, ‘cause she always loved her feet to be rubbed.  And then, later on, they said that they were going to take her off life support.  They helped me put her in my arms so I could hold her one last time.

Ariel’s parents, Cheryl and Randy, say Ariel was the daughter they always wanted.

Randy Botzet, father:  Just looking at her you know life would be better. She had that kind of charm and charisma.

Stafford: Do you remember the day she was born?

Cheryl Botzet:  Yes. It was November 6, 1992. And it was the best thing that ever happened to me.  I finally got the girl that I’d been praying for.

Ariel was a rambunctious little girl, an animal lover with dirty blonde hair and an infectious smile.

Cheryl Botzet:  We hiked, climbed, swimming.  We’re best friends.  Not just mother and daughter, but best friends.

In 1995, when Ariel was 3 years old, her parents learned she was different from other kids.

Stafford: What was the first sign that something was wrong with Ariel?

Cheryl Botzet: I noticed that she was drinking entirely way too much.

Ariel was drinking juice and water, and had an unquenchable thirst. And Cheryl says something else seemed strange: Her daughter developed a Juicy Fruit gum smell on her breath. And then came the day Ariel blacked out.

Randy Botzet:  We were sitting around the table and her eyes rolled up and her lips turned purple and she just wasn’t answering.

Cheryl rushed Ariel to the doctor and after a series of tests, there was a diagnosis:  Ariel had a Type 1 or juvenile diabetes. It meant she’d need constant monitoring and daily insulin injections for the rest of her life.

Stafford:  The doctor says “diabetes.” What’s goes through your mind?

Cheryl Botzet: What is that? I was petrified. I was scared.

She had reason to be. Without careful management, diabetes can lead to blindness, amputations, even death. Within hours, Cheryl got a crash course on how to care for her daughter—several times every day, she’d have to prick Ariel’s finger to test her blood and give her insulin shots.

Stafford: How many shots of insulin do you have to give Ariel a day as she’s growing up?

Cheryl Botzet: It varied from anywhere two, three, sometimes four.

Stafford: What’s it like giving a little kid a shot every day?

Cheryl Botzet: In the beginning, it was very hard.  That’s your baby.  But, you got to do what you got to do to keep your baby well.

Over the years, Ariel seemed to adapt, but the care her chronic illness demanded put a strain on the family.

Cheryl Botzet: It’s not just her or an individual with diabetes.  It affects everybody. 

Stafford: What do you think it did to your marriage?

Cheryl Botzet: I sometimes think it put a big hole in it.

By the time Ariel turned 11 years old, Cheryl and her husband had separated and Ariel was living with her mom.

Ariel seemed fine, living without major complications for eight years. But on a Thursday night, the first week of February 2004, everything changed. Cheryl says that night Ariel seemed to come down with the flu, though she hadn’t lost her usual feistiness.

Cheryl Botzet: She was taking a bath.  And when I went in the bathroom, she had her goggles and her snorkel and my swimsuit ready for me to jump in.

Stafford: Did you have any idea what the next 24 hours were going to be like?

Cheryl Botzet: No.

Cheryl says Ariel’s flu symptoms worsened in the middle of the night and her daughter began to vomit. The next day, Cheryl stayed home from work.

Cheryl Botzet: I got her up and said, “You’re going to the doctor’s.”  And, she fought, argued, screamed about it.  She didn’t want to go.

Stafford:  And, what did you say?

Cheryl Botzet: I said, “You’re going.”

A friend drove them to a clinic called “Quickcare.” But within minutes, the clinic was calling 911.

Paramedics were rushing Ariel to a hospital, asAriel slipped in and out of consciousness.

Cheryl Botzet: It just didn’t seem like we were getting there fast enough. When we got to the hospital she wasn’t responding. 

By the time Ariel arrived at the hospital, her brain had swelled so much, she had to be put on life support. Doctors couldn’t save her. Three days later, with her parents at her side, Ariel died.

The cause of death: diabetic ketoacidosis— the result of Ariel having high blood sugar and not enough insulin.

Doctors at the hospital tested Ariel and found her blood sugar had been abnormally high, not just at the time she died but surprisingly, in the months leading up to her death. This raised the question: Was Ariel’s death a natural complication from diabetes or something worse? 

Doctors were suspicious and called authorities, and they brought their questions directly to Cheryl.

Cheryl Botzet: I was devastated by the tragedy that had happened and on top of that them questioning me was absurd to me.

Three months later, Cheryl Botzet wasn’t being questioned by public health officials. She was being questioned by homicide detectives, who had searched her home, gathered evidence and reached a stunning conclusion— that Cheryl Botzet wasn’t just a grieving mom— she was a suspect.

According to investigators, Cheryl neglected her daughter so seriously it amounted to a criminal act. The charge was murder.

A rare rainy sky covered Las Vegas the day Cheryl Botzet stood to face charges of first degree murder.

Rob Stafford, Dateline correspondent: First degree murder to most people is somebody plans to kill someone.  They go out, they take a gun and they do it.

Dave Stanton, Las Vegas prosecutor: If you understand diabetes and what’s required of a parent of a juvenile diabetic, there is no distinction factually between what you just said.  That Cheryl walked up, put a loaded gun to the back of her daughter’s head, and pulled the trigger.  Cause that’s exactly what happened other than it wasn’t a gun.

Right away, in his opening statement, prosecutor Dave Stanton described Botzet not as a caring parent but a neglectful mother who killed her own child.

Stanton (in court): Type 1 juvenile diabetics have a fatal disease.  In this day and age, they should never be next to a cliff. This defendant took her daughter’s hand and walked her to the edge of that cliff and shoved her off.

Vicki Monroe: It’s a shame and a travesty that an 11-year-old little girl should be dead because she wasn’t cared for.

To prove murder prosecutors Stanton and co-counsel Vicki Monroe had to convince the jury that Cheryl Botzet knew how to care for her daughter’s diabetes, but didn’t, and that neglect caused her death. 

Video: Interview in jail

It was the first case of its kind in Nevada: a mother charged with murder in the death of her diabetic child. If convicted of the most serious murder charge against her, Cheryl Botzet faced the possibility of spending the rest of her life behind bars.

The prosecution says Cheryl began a pattern of neglecting Ariel shortly after she separated from her husband and moved to Colorado. It was then, according to prosecutors, that Ariel’s health— and Cheryl’s attention to it— began to deteriorate.

Nurse Molly Jane Bangert examined Ariel in Colorado 18 months before Ariel’s death. She told the jury she was concerned about the results of a test called a “hemoglobin a1c”— a forensic snapshot of Ariel’s blood sugar for the past three months.

Molly Jane Bangert, Ariel’s nurse in Colorado: We talked about the importance of blood glucose control. We discussed what her—what Ariel’s current A1C was. Because it was obvious that the blood sugars had been too high for too long.

A healthy test result for a diabetic is roughly 7 percent. Ariel’s was 15 — more than twice what it should have been, a result prosecutors say would alarm any parent of a diabetic child, but not Cheryl Botzet. Instead, it was the nurse who was alarmed.

A diabetic herself, the nurse testified Cheryl had lost Ariel’s glucometer: the crucial device needed daily to measure her daughter’s blood sugar. and worse, she’d even run out of insulin—the daily medication Ariel desperately needed to stay alive.

Bangert testified she was so concerned about the little girl she gave Ariel some of her own insulin.

Bangert (in court):  I gave them two blood glucose meters; one for home and one for school, and I gave her a bottle of insulin from my personal supply because I was concerned about the blood sugars being so high.

Even though Cheryl had been taught at least twice over the years about how to care for her daughter, the nurse testified she too tried to teach Cheryl how to better maintain Ariel’s health, but she says Cheryl seemed more defensive than concerned.

Attorney (in court): What do you recall about the defendant’s response to your request for education about diabetes.

Bangert: She said that she didn’t need anybody to tell her how to help take care of her daughter’s diabetes.

Perhaps the most convincing part of the prosecutions case focused on the week Ariel died. By then, Cheryl and Ariel had moved back to Las Vegas.   

It was Superbowl Sunday 2004.  Ariel rode her bike across town from her mother’s apartment to a party at her father’s house.

Stanton (in court): Can you describe how Ariel looked, both her physical appearance to you, and how her behavior was at your Super Bowl party?

Randy Botzet, father: She was a little bit pale.  Not real pale.  But, just a little discolored.  I thought maybe it had been from riding her bike or something.

Stanton:Is that the last time you saw your daughter, Ariel, alive?

Randy Botzet:Yes.

Stanton: Did you talk to your daughter the next day?

Randy Botzet: Yes. She wanted to go swimming.

Stanton: Was there anything about her demeanor on the telephone that concerned you about her swimming?

Randy Botzet: She had sniffles and I told her, “Tell your mom, you should make a doctor appointment or go to the doctor’s.”

Despite Ariel’s symptoms, the prosecution says Cheryl did nothing, and waited, taking her daughter to this clinic five days later. At 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6, Ariel’s condition was getting worse.

Doctor Emerita Abela testified that Cheryl told her Ariel had been sick for several days.

Dr. Emerita Abela (in court):She was saying that, “Oh, she had this three or four days ago but I thought it was flu.”

Abela also heard Cheryl say was Ariel had been vomiting on and off for approximately three to four days.

To prosecutors, it was a critical piece of testimony. They say Cheryl had been repeatedly taught that unlike a healthy child, anytime a diabetic child vomited, a doctor needed to be called immediately, not days later.

In fact, Ariel’s condition was so grave by the time she sought help, the clinic couldn’t handle it. They rushed her to a nearby hospital where Ariel was given that a1c blood test again. This time, the reading was 16.1, even higher than the number that had concerned the nurse from Colorado a year and a half earlier.

Prosecutors called Las Vegas homicide detective Mark McNett to prove the high test result was caused by Cheryl’s pattern of neglect.

Detective McNett (in court): The glucometer has a downloadable feature.  It stores data on it for a certain number of readings.

McNett testified when Ariel was sick, her glucometer— that crucial blood testing device—showed Ariel was tested just two times that entire week instead of the minimum of four times every single day.

Stafford: That glucometer doesn’t just talk about the tests that were done, it talks about the tests that weren’t done?

Vicky Monroe, Las Vegas prosecutor: Absolutely. Ultimately the results of that glucometer came out that this child was tested on January the 30th, Friday, the day she was in school and February the 6th, the day she was taken to the hospital.  There were no other readings on that glucometer.

Stafford: Not on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday?

Monroe: Not on any of those days.

On top of that, insurance records show Cheryl purchased just two bottles of insulin the year before Ariel died— most diabetics need two bottles each month.

After receiving this information from detectives, Clark County medical examiner Dr. Larry Simms crystallized the prosecutions case.

Stanton (in court): Do you have an opinion, Dr. Simms, after your entire examination of what the cause of death for Ariel Botzet was?

Dr. Larry Simms, medical examiner: The cause of death was diabetic ketoacidosis.

Stanton: And manner of death?

Dr. Simms: Homicide…  there wasn’t enough insulin being purchased in order to sustain the dosages. It was very reasonable to me to conclude that there was chronic medical neglect.

It was a definitive conclusion that seemed to seal the prosecution’s case— as Vicky Monroe hammered home the loss of a little girl’s life and pointed the finger at the woman she says caused it.

Monroe (closing argument in court): Do you have any idea or any doubt that the defendant did not know how to take care of this child properly?  You bet she did.  She knew.  She wasn’t a parent who wasn’t told these things.  And her failure to care for this child over the last three months of her life was her own doing, her choice. To let this child not get her insulin. Her choice to not test this child 4 to 6 times a day.

Perhaps if she’d been brought to the hospital earlier, Ariel Botzet would not be a photo on a monitor, and we’re talking about her death and who’s responsible for it.  We wouldn’t be here possibly.

I would submit to you there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that that woman  (pointing to Cheryl Botzet) is guilty.

And, the proper verdict in this case is first degree murder.   Thank you.

To prosecutors, it was open and shut— but defense attorney Herb Sachs was about to pull off a Perry Mason moment he was convinced would change the jury’s mind.

Herb Sachs, defense attorney: This is a country of justice, or supposed to be, and this is the most unjust prosecution I have seen.  As a matter of fact, I changed the word from "prosecution" to "persecution."

Even before Cheryl Botzet set foot in this courtroom, the defense went on the offense. Attorney Herb Sachs accused prosecutors and police of being overzealous by charging a grieving mom with murder.

Rob Stafford, Dateline correspondent: You hear the charge first-degree murder, what goes through your mind?

Sachs: That the DA wants some sort of publicity or something…  I’ve had many, many a criminal case in 54 years, and I have never seen a case like this.

The defense attorney says Ariel’s death was not a crime, but the result of a life-long disease that tragically robbed Cheryl Botzet of the daughter she loved.

Sachs (in court): My client did not cause her daughter’s death, nor did she want her daughter to die.

The defense strategy was clear— to turn each prosecution witness into a witness for the defense by raising reasonable doubt during cross examination.

Prosecutors presented testimony that Cheryl waited days to take Ariel to the doctor. Attorney Sachs challenged that allegation. He says Cheryl acted within hours. To prove his point he questioned police investigator Lisa Myk:

Sachs (in court): You asked Cheryl when Ariel had thrown up and she said, “Early Friday morning or Thursday night.” 

Lisa Myk, police investigator: Yes.

Investigator Myk interviewed Cheryl the day Ariel died. She says Cheryl told her Ariel began vomiting only the night before she sought help, not several days as another prosecution witness had previously testified.

Investigator Myk was also the first to search Cheryl’s apartment. Remember, Cheryl’s insurance records show she bought only two bottles of insulin that year? The defense argued that simply wasn’t true.

Sachs: Now you found four bottles of insulin.

Myk:Yes.

Sachs: Did you say two were open?

Myk:Two weren’t in boxes.

Sachs: But were any of those bottles opened, that you know?

Myk: That there appeared to be used, but I don’t know how many times.

Sachs: And that was how many bottles appeared to be used?

Myk: Two.

Sachs: And two bottles appeared to be unused—

Myk: Yes.

Sachs: unopened.

Myk: Correct.

Sachs: And all four came out of the refrigerator.

Myk:Yes.

The defense argued the insurance records tell only part of the story. Attorney Sachs says his investigation found Cheryl bought insulin over the counter, without notifying insurance— a perfectly legal way to do it— and then she stockpiled it— hardly the actions of an abusive neglectful mom.

He questioned detective Mark McNett.

Sachs (in court): Did you ask Mrs. Botzet how many times she purchased insulin over the counter?

Detective Mark McNett:  No, I didn’t. The insurance records should indicate whether she purchased them over the counter or through the pharmacies.

Sachs: Right.

Det. McNett: She states in her statement that she purchased using the insurance.  Their billing records show when purchases were made. 

Sachs: Did you ask her if all the purchases were made through that insurance?

Det. McNett: I didn’t ask the word “all,” no.

Sachs (Dateline interview): Why was I able to find out that she purchased more?  And why weren’t they?  And the reason I figured out on our strategy was because they wanted her convicted.  So they didn’t want to find out that she had purchased more.

And attorney Sachs contended his investigation found something else: that Cheryl had at least three blood testing devices, not just one glucometer as the prosecution claimed.

Sachs (in court): You brought two glucometers, is that correct?

Det. McNett: Two additional glucometers, yes.

Sachs: Where did you get those glucometers from?

Det. McNett: I got those from this court.

Sachs: And you know where the court got them from?

Det. McNett:You.

Sachs pointed out the police didn’t find those glucometers, the defense did. And even though they showed no readings, to Sachs, it raised the possibility Cheryl could have tested Ariel more than just two times that week, as prosecutors alleged.

Sachs: You were there as a matter of fact when I produced them, is that correct?

Det. McNett: Yes, I was.

But the defense still had to answer a crucial question for the jury: If Cheryl was stockpiling insulin and was testing Ariel’s blood regularly, why were Ariel’s blood sugar readings still so high?

Attorney Sachs used one of the prosecution’s witnesses, the nurse from Colorado, to give one possible explanation: that Ariel ate foods she wasn’t supposed to eat.

Sachs:Would cheating cause blood sugars to be high?  When I say cheating, kid grabs a bar of chocolate, drinks pop?  Does that cause the blood sugars to be high?

Molly Jane Bangert, Colorado nurse:Yes, that’s one of many things that can cause blood sugars to be high.

Sachs: Now, in your mind, did you take into consideration that she might have been cheating? 

Bangert:Was she a typical kid and ate things that we wouldn’t have recommended?  Absolutely.

Sachs: And typical kids cheat, don’t they? 

Bangert:They have soda pop, they have candies. But, typical kids don’t have to worry about the effect that it does on their blood sugars.

Rob Stafford, Dateline correspondent: How tricky is it for you to explain to the jury that Ariel cheated on her diet without blaming the child for what happened?

Sachs (Dateline interview): The reason I’m bringing that out is to show why no matter how well she was being cared for by her mother, that if she cheats on her diet, if she eats chocolate, the blood sugars are gonna go high and the finger testing, the blood testing will show a high blood sugar.

In the defense quest to raise reasonable doubt, it saw the cross examination of the medical examiner as its smoking gun. Remember, Dr. Larry Simms ruled Ariel’s death a homicide based largely on information provided by detectives. The doctor was told Cheryl didn’t purchase enough insulin to keep her daughter healthy.

Sachs: Did you later find out from conversations with me about other purchases that were made by Ariel Botzet for insulin?

Dr. Simms:    Yes.

Sachs:Did I supply you with any documentation?

Dr. Simms: Yes, you gave me a list of a number of insulin purchases.

Sachs:Now, did you ask the police why they did not investigate further and why they did not come up with the same information I came up with?

Dr. Simms: No, I didn’t ask them that direct question, no.

Sachs: Based upon the information you received from me and conversations with my experts as well as whatever else you relied upon, could you say today with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the manner of death was a homicide?

Dr. Simms: No, I don’t think I would if that information is correct and my calculations were correct and everything—I don’t think I could maintain that as a conclusion, no.

The defense argued that had the medical examiner known of Cheryl’s over-the-counter purchases of insulin, his conclusion about how Ariel died, would have been far different... and a fatal blow to the prosecution’s case.

Stafford: How important is that answer to your case?

Sachs: Well that should be the only one who could make that determination as to whether or not there’s a homicide or not a homicide is the medical examiner or the coroner. And therefore, if he can’t say it, there is no homicide that was proven beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Stafford: You think you have won this case at that moment?

Sachs: Oh, absolutely. 

So confident the prosecution hadn’t proved its case, the defense took a gamble and went into closing arguments without calling a single witness of their own.

Sachs: So she followed all instructions that make her a bad, negligent mother? Obviously not. What do we call her a “bad, negligent mother”?  Because they don’t have a case of premeditation and deliberation. They don’t have a case of murder. 

She wasn’t going to wait.  She took the kid like a good mother should do irrespective of what the DA says.  What a good mother should do she did!  She took this child right to Quick Care and brought her in for treatment.  What more should a mother do?

Was it enough for the defense? Cheryl Botzet, facing life in prison, would now have to wait for the jury to decide her fate.

About 17 months after the death of Ariel Botzet, her mother’s future and freedom were on the line. On television and on the Internet, the story picked up steam.

The jury deciding her fate knew the case was unusual and that the  stakes were high.

Juror: When I think of murder, I think of somebody shooting somebody or stabbing them.  Not this.

Another juror: She had already lost her daughter. That’s punishment in itself. But then, is there further punishment?

The judge told the jury to set aside personal feelings and stick to the evidence. Dateline spoke with 10 of the jurors who told us their deliberations began with a vote.

After anonymous votes, it was clear that not everyone would agree right away.

The jury had three options: convict Cheryl Botzet of first or second degree murder, or to find her not guilty. To convict, they needed to believe Cheryl Botzet either abused or neglected Ariel by not properly caring for her and that the abuse or neglect directly caused Ariel’s death.

One of the first issues for the jury: Ariel’s high blood sugar levels and the device Cheryl was supposed to use to measure them— her glucometer.

Juror: It showed to me that she knew this child was sick because of the readings.  And I think the fact that it held memory was huge.  Because you couldn’t say, “Yeah, I did it.”  Because the readings show that she didn’t do it for two or three days.

Another juror, a diabetic herself, said she was stunned by how high Ariel’s levels were. But what about the defense argument that Ariel cheated on her diet, causing her blood sugar levels to soar?

Juror 2: That turned off.  Because he kept saying, “Well, the child’s a cheater.  And this child, you know, she didn’t take responsibility.”  So that turned me off, blaming the child.

What did seem to stick was testimony from the Colorado nurse who examined Ariel.

Juror: She explained that her readings were off the scale.  And she asked her, did she understand how to take care of her child?  You know, you need to do this, you need to do that.  And Cheryl Botzet had specifically said, “Don’t tell me how to take care of my child.”

And she had no glucometer when she got there.

Juror: How do you lose something so important to the treatment of your child? 

But the judge limited conclusions that the jurors could make from the nurse’s testimony. They were not allowed to consider if Cheryl neglected Ariel in Colorado, only if Cheryl was educated on caring for a diabetic child.

Juror: A lot of the Colorado to me was hard. It’s hard because once it’s out there in the open, it’s hard to put that aside.

The jurors heard more evidence than they were supposed to hear.

So they tried to focus only on what happened at the Botzet home in Las Vegas in the time leading up to Ariel’s death. Perhaps most important was to answer the question, did Cheryl have enough insulin to care for Ariel?

And despite the fact some jurors were skeptical, they still felt for Cheryl Botzet: a single mother with a diabetic daughter, a tough balancing act for any parent.

One juror, a young working mother, says she has a sick child at home and says she could relate to some of Cheryl’s struggles and her heartbreak.

Juror: Her punishment is that she has to relive the rest of her life without her daughter.  And being a mother, that would be the worst for me personally. 

Some felt it was unfair to place all the blame on Ariel’s mother. After all her father Randy lived nearby, saw Ariel the week she died, and testified she looked sick.

And what about that “Perry Mason” moment from the defense, when the medical examiner seemed to question whether a homicide had even occurred? Several jurors zeroed in on that.

Juror: Simms came back and said, “Well, it might not be homicide the defense presented some new facts to him.”

Stafford: And does that make you think perhaps you should have doubt as well?

Juror: Definitely.

The jury was about to reach a verdict and attorneys on both sides of this case would soon be stunned not by one, but two startling decisions.

A year and a half after the death of her daughter, Cheryl Botzet was about to learn whether she’d be convicted or cleared of the worst crime a mother could be accused of: killing her own child.

In a surprise to most everyone watching, the jury reached its verdict after just two hours of deliberation. And lawyers on both sides thought they knew what the fast verdict meant.

Rob Stafford, Dateline correspondent: Jury comes back after only two hours.  You’ve been doing this a long time.  What does your gut tell you about what the verdict’s going to be?

Herb Sachs, defense lawyer:  Not guilty.

Stafford: So you’re feeling pretty good as that jury walks into the court room?

Sachs: I’m feeling fairly confident.  I’m not ready to celebrate yet, but I’m feeling fairly confident.

The prosecutors were equally confident.

Dave Stanton, prosecutor:  A quick verdict like that favors the prosecution.  But you never know.  It could be an absolute embracing your theory of your case or an absolute rejection of it.  I knew it was going to be one of those two.

The verdict?

"Verdict, we the jury in the above entitled case find the defendant Cheryl Botzet also known as Cheryl Lynn Musso as follows count one guilty of 2nd degree murder dated this 25 day of Oct 2005."

Cheryl Botzet was guilty of murder in the second degree.

At the defense table, Cheryl Botzet sat for nine minutes before the emotion of the moment spilled out.

She knew the guilty verdict meant she faced at least 10 years in prison, possibly the rest of her life.  Minutes later, in a conference room with her boyfriend, the reality of the judgment against her continued to sink in.

Outside the courthouse, amidst a crush of reporters, the opposite reaction from Ariel’s father, Cheryl’s former husband Randy.

Randy Botzet, former husband: She deserves what she got.  She did the wrong thing and now she’s going to pay for it.  So, and it’s about time.

Randy hoped the verdict would bring closure for him and his family, but less than six weeks after the guilty verdict, defense attorney Herb Sachs was back in court, with Cheryl by his side, hoping to convince the judge she had made a mistake and should overturn the conviction.

Sachs: If the verdict is unjust in fact and in law, then it’s my responsibility to make sure that the injustice is undone.

In court, Sachs argued against the use if witnesses from Colorado only for the purposes of education.

Sachs argued that the judge should have never allowed Molly Jane Bangert, the nurse from Colorado, to testify about things Cheryl might have said or done years before Ariel’s death—alleged bad acts the jury should not have been able to consider.

And in a twist that would stun the Vegas community, the judge said she had, in fact, made a mistake and granted Cheryl Botzet a new trial.

Cheryl is free... for now. Prosecutors are adamant this latest twist in the case will not be its last.  They’re now appealing and say they’re confident they’ll get another chance to convict Cheryl Botzet.

Stafford: Why are you so determined to try this case again?

Stanton: Simply based upon the facts. It isn’t a close call about a mother who failed to give insulin to a child— one or two days, or over a week.  But, the nature and the severity of the neglect of her medical condition, and the type of medical condition that she had, to me, just screams out that it’s a murder and she needs to stand tall for that offense.

Stafford: Given the fact a jury convicted Cheryl in two hours, are you concerned about the possibility of trying this case again?

Sachs: Not in the slightest. Because what will be shown in the second trial is that my client, Cheryl Botzet, did everything that she knew how to do.  She did everything that her education taught her to do. 

While the debate continues over one girl’s life tragically lost, Cheryl Botzet remains convinced that one day her name will finally be cleared; her role in her daughter’s death, finally absolved.

Stafford: Do you feel any responsibility for Ariel’s death?

Cheryl Botzet: No.

Stafford:  None, none whatsoever?

Cheryl Botzet: No.

Stafford:  Why not?

Cheryl Botzet:  Because I was a good mom.  I did the best I could for her. I know I gave my daughter love, good care.  And I’m not a bad mother.  And I’m going to fight for my innocence.

Today, Cheryl Botzet is a free woman, though she’s still accused of murdering her diabetic daughter who, for whatever reason, was much too young to die.

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