NEWS

Trial postponed for mother accused of killing autistic daughter

Kevin Sampier

The trial of a Morton mother accused of suffocating her autistic daughter will be postponed until next month, a judge ruled Monday.

Jury selection was scheduled to begin Monday in the trial of Karen McCarron, but a request by the prosecution to postpone the trial was granted in Tazewell County Circuit Court by Judge Stephen Kouri.

Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin Johnson said last week the postponement was needed to review a mental fitness report conducted by a medical expert for the defense.

The report was given to the prosecution four days before the trial was supposed to start, Johnson said.

State’s Attorney Stewart Umholtz said the report from the defense claims McCarron was insane at the time of the incident.

An insanity defense essentially says McCarron committed the crime, but should not be held criminally responsible for the crime, Umholtz said.

A defendant can’t raise an insanity defense without also admitting to committing the crime, Umholtz said.

In a videotaped interview, McCarron told police she took daughter Katherine to her mother’s house and let her play before suffocating her with a plastic bag. She told police the child died within about two minutes.

Jury selection is now scheduled to begin Jan. 2 and two pre-trial meetings are scheduled for Dec. 13 and Dec. 31.

The prosecution also intends to have its own medical expert interview McCarron.

Johnson said the prosecution can have its medical expert’s report completed by the first week of January at the latest.

Kouri said both sides met in his chambers Sunday and discussed the new dates for the trial that has now been postponed six times.

McCarron’s previous defense attorneys and current attorney Marc Wolfe received the five previous postponements. Kouri recently took a firm stand against postponing the trial any more for the defense, saying Wolfe was using stall tactics to delay the case.

Wolfe agreed to the new dates Monday in a conference telephone call, while McCarron’s appearance was waived. They both are scheduled to be present in court during the Dec. 13 meeting.

McCarron, a former pathologist, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of obstructing justice and one count of concealment of a homicidal death and is free on $1 million bond.

Kevin Sampier can be reached at (309) 346-5300 or ksampier@pjstar.com.