‘Rebirthing’ therapist loses appeal

The state Court of Appeals in Denver on Thursday upheld the verdict and 16-year prison sentence of a woman convicted in the “rebirthing therapydeath of a 10-year-old girl.

Attorneys for Julie Ponder had argued it was unfair to try her jointly with Evergreen therapist Connell Watkins and to use evidence against her that should have been used against Watkins, who also was convicted and sentenced to 16 years.

Candace Newmaker died April 19, 2000, a day after the rebirthing session. The girl had been wrapped in a sheet while Watkins, assistant therapist Ponder and two other adults pushed against several large pillows covering the girl. The technique was meant to simulate labor contractions.

The therapists urged her to be “reborn” to her adoptive mother, Jeane Newmaker, of Durham, N.C. Watkins said the session was necessary because the girl hadn’t formed an emotional attachment to Newmaker.

The appeals court said it was proper to join the two trials because it included much of the same evidence and any evidence admissible only in regard to one defendant and prejudicial to the other could be mitigated by cautionary instructions.


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Associated Press, USA
Aug. 6, 2004
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