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Colorado mom accused of faking daughter’s illness, seeking Make-a-Wish gifts pleads guilty in girl’s death

Kelly Turner is accused of causing the 2017 death of her 7-year-old daughter, Olivia Gant.
Olivia Gant rides with Cpt. Tim Scudder on a call in Denver in 2017,  after police made her an officer for a day.
Olivia Gant rides with Cpt. Tim Scudder on a call in Denver in 2017, after police made her an officer for a day. Denver Police Department via AP

A Colorado woman charged with murdering her 7-year-old daughter by pretending the child had medical issues reached a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Kelly Turner pleaded guilty Monday to felony child abuse negligently causing death, felony theft and felony charitable fraud, said spokesperson Vikki Migoya of the district attorney’s office of the 18th Judicial District.

Other counts, including murder, were dismissed under the agreement, Migoya said Wednesday.

A grand jury indictment accused Turner, who also went by the name Kelly Gant, of causing the 2017 death of her daughter, Olivia Gant. Turner was arrested in 2019 at a Denver-area hotel.

The mother had claimed that her daughter suffered from multiple illnesses including a seizure disorder and a buildup of fluid in cavities within her brain, according to the indictment. The child's cause of death was originally attributed to intestinal failure, the indictment states.

But after the child's body was exhumed in 2018, an autopsy found no physical evidence of intestinal failure or other illnesses Turner claimed her daughter had. The indictment does not say what specifically caused Olivia's death but noted that her mother had withdrawn medical care and nourishment in the weeks before she died, according to NBC affiliate KUSA of Denver.

The indictment outlined disturbing details about the case and said Olivia had been using a feeding tube and was admitted to Children's Hospital Colorado in July 2017. Doctors told Turner that the girl was lacking nutrition, according to the indictment.

Olivia died a few weeks later.

One doctor told investigators that Turner wanted to withdraw medical care for Olivia and asked that her feeding tube be removed because she thought the girl's quality of life was so bad, the indictment states. Turner also insisted that the doctor sign a "do not resuscitate" order for Olivia, it alleges.

Several doctors told investigators that the child did not have a terminal condition, according to the indictment. It says that Olivia started getting treatment at the hospital in 2013 after the family moved from Texas.

The girl's alleged medical issues made headlines in the Denver area, KUSA reports. The indictment states that Olivia received ride-alongs with police and fire crews, which were publicized in the media.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation, a nonprofit that fulfills wishes for critically ill children and teenagers, also paid about $11,000 so Olivia could have a "bat princess" costume party, according to the indictment.

Investigators began looking into Olivia's death after doctors became suspicious when Turner brought her older daughter to the hospital claiming the girl had bone pain, the indictment states.

Authorities separated Turner from her older daughter as Olivia's death was investigated. The older daughter has not had any medical problems or complaints since October 2018, the indictment states.

An attorney for Turner did not immediately return a request for comment on Wednesday. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 9, according to online court records.