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Court upholds sentence in rebirthing case

DENVER (AP) — The state Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld the verdict and 16-year prison sentence of a woman convicted in the “rebirthing therapy” death of a 10-year-old girl originally from Lincoln County.
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, born Candace Elmore, died April 19, 2000, a day after the rebirthing session. The girl had been wrapped in a sheet while Watkins, another therapist 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 wasn’t emotionally attaching to Newmaker and was displaying wild and disruptive behavior.
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 as to one defendant and prejudicial to the other could be mitigated by cautionary instructions.
The appeals court also rejected arguments that testimony by Watkins shifted the blame to Ponder and that testimony from two expert witnesses condemning Watkins’s therapy as child abuse and torture was used to convict Ponder.

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