The verdict is in for the case of the Perry mother whose baby daughter died of heat exposure after being left in a hot minivan last June. Dallas County Judge Paul Huscher has found 35-year-old Kari Engholm not guilty of felony neglect of a dependent child and involuntary manslaughter in the death of her seven-month-old daughter Clare.
Engholm testified during her two-day trial last week that she forgot to drop her daughter at daycare because of thoughts of a busy day ahead as the CEO of the Dallas County Hospital. Engholm says she’s please with the verdict, but says it’s bittersweet, as she said “We miss our Clare so much.” Engholm says the holiday season will be especially difficult without her daughter.
Engholm says it’s been a rough five-day wait for the verdict. She says she didn’t let thoughts of being found guilty enter her mind.Engholm says she tried not to think about it, and prayed several times a day and put her fate in God’s hands. The case has generated controversy across Iowa and the nation. Engholm says she’ll probably never sway the opinions of those who think she should be punished for her daughter’s death.
Engholm says she believes those who think she should be punished are a small segment of people, and says she’s received hundreds of cards in support from parents who said it was an accident that could happen to anyone. Engholm has been on leave from her job since the death of her daughter. She doesn’t know what happens next, as she says she is taking things a day at a time and still needs more time to decide her future plans.
Dallas County Attorney Wayne Reisetter brought the charges against Engholm. He read a prepared statement for reporters, saying the verdict brings closure to a difficult case. He says, “The verdict public ally and unequivocally states that Kari Engholm did not commit a crime and any concerns raised by the filing of charges must be dispelled.”
He said he wasn’t angry or surprised with the verdict. Reisetter said he knew from the outset that it was a difficult case and there was a great deal of concern for Engholm and about how her child died.Reisetter argued in court that Engholm’s actions were reckless. He was asked if he still felt that way after the judge’s verdict. He says it is a fair outcome in a difficult legal question.
Reisetter says the case points out the need for parents to be responsible for their actions in taking care of their children.