Well Being

Trial Of Karen McCarron:Day 1

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Trial of Karen McCarron Day 1 alloy default image jpg
Yesterday, January 7th, was the first day in the trial of Karen McCarron, who is accused of killing her 3-year-old daughter, Katherine, by suffocating her with a plastic bag on Mother’s Day weekend in May of 2006. WMBD/WYZZ TV reports that

McCarron’s husband Paul was the first to take the stand. He testified that McCarron never accepted their daughter’s condition. McCarron had even suggested several times that they give their daughter up for adoption. Paul also said he was aware McCarron suffered from “on again, off again” depression. Under examination by the defense, Paul McCarron admitted he was aware of a history of mental illness on Karen’s side of the family, including her father’s bi-polar disorder. But he said her depression never manifested into any type of noticeable physical or mental problem.

WTHI TV (Terre Haute) reports that Paul McCarron “testified today that his wife was obsessed with finding a cure for the little girl.” It’s not clear what sort of “cure” Karen McCarron was “obsessed with”; in regard to treatments for autism, the word “cure” is often used in regard to biomedical treatments. A January 4th news article by David Mercer quoted Dr. David Ayoub, described as a “a leading supporter of a controversial theory that mercury in early childhood vaccines causes the disease,” said in interviews in 2006 “that he had occasionally talked with Karen McCarron after Katherine was diagnosed with autism.”

The prosecution, WMBD/WYZZ TV reports, plans to show that Karen McCarron

….“concealed the homicidal nature” of the three year old’s death. The state said in their opening arguments McCarron, a Clinical Pathologist, by profession knew death. They said only when she didn’t feel a heartbeat did she remove her hands from the plastic bag covering her daughters head. The prosecution says McCarron killed her daughter, brought Katie’s body back to her home and staged the body to look like the 3 year old was asleep – fooling McCarron’s mother and family present in the house. The prosecution says McCarron left the home to dispose of the murder weapon – telling her family she was going to get ice cream at the Morton Kroger store. The prosecution says when she returned, she went upstairs to check on Katie, screamed, and pretended to perform CPR on the dead body.

The defense plans to use an insanity defense.

The defense laid the foundation of a mentally ill woman, telling jurors to listen closely to the testimony. Defense Attorney Marc Wolfe said the state only presented a summary of events, and that testimony from McCarron’s mother, doctors and relatives will shed light onto her mental state at the time. McCarron has spent the last year and a half at a mental health facility. Wolfe says McCarron’s video taped confession (given at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria) will play a crucial part in the trial, but added the confession must be consistent with the physical evidence presented.

Other witnesses called to the stand included Lisa Hill, Katie’s occupational therapist from Easter Seals:

She testified Paul McCarron seemed to be more interested in Katie’s health. She said it was only because Paul was more hands on then McCarron, and added McCarron still seemed to be a loving and concerned mother. She said McCarron told her several times she thought Katie was doing worse in therapy, but Hill said she had seen an improvement.

Two young women who were to be full-time caregivers for Katie testified; both had begun to work at the McCarron’s household the week before Katie’s death: “Both testified McCarron conveyed to them that she thought Katie’s condition was getting worse. Both women said they thought Katie was in a much better condition than other autistic children they knew.”

I will be posting daily about Karen McCarron’s trial, which is expected to last for a week and a half. I first posted about Katherine McCarron’s death on May 17, 2006 and have since written regularly about her. The case has generated a lot of feeling among anyone who hears about it (as a recent discussion here attests) and a lot of my own feelings are wound up in my writing about Katie. I met Katie’s grandfather, Michael McCarron, at an October 26, 2006, conference on autism and advocacy at Fordham University in New York city (the conference was organized by my husband, Jim Fisher; some 300 people attended, and at least one speaker mentioned Katie).

There are photos of Katie here: She was “beautiful, precious, and happy,” and that is why the pink “Katie ribbons” have a pattern of hearts and flowers on them.