Five years ago, Karen McCarron, an Illinois pathologist, suffocated her three-year-daughter Katherine “Katie” McCarron with a plastic bag in her mother’s house. McCarron then drove the body of her daughter back home and put her to bed as if she were asleep. She was found guilty of killing Katie in 2008, sentenced to 36 years in prison and is incarcerated at the Dwight Correctional Center.
As the Journal-Star reports, McCarron is seeking a new trial, citing ineffective defense. A year ago, McCarron lost an appeal to an Illinois appellate court. Says the Journal-Star about McCarron’s about new appeal:
An amended petition filed Wednesday in Tazewell County Court states McCarron’s then-attorney, Marc Wolfe, allowed perjured statements by McCarron’s husband to be admitted as well as a confession by Karen McCarron, which her current defense attorney claims should not have been allowed. The 26-page petition also claims Wolfe was impaired by consistent and excessive use of alcohol during trial.
Wolfe, reached by phone on Thursday, said he had not seen the petition. “Any allegation involving impairment is totally outrageous,” he said. “It’s so ridiculous, it’s not even worth a comment.
A hearing has been schedule for September 28.
The case of McCarron gripped parents of autistic children and individuals on the autism spectrum when it was first reported in 2006 and during the trial in 2008. While horrified at McCarron killing her daughter, some said the case illustrated the “burden” of caring for an autistic child and for a child with other disabilities, and that the difficulties of raising a child with a disability made what had happened to Katie “understandable.” But Michael McCarron, Katie’s grandfather, stated that
“This was not about autism. This was not about a lack of support.”
A number of parents of autistic children, including myself and autistics and disability rights advocates including Not Dead Yet emphasized that, while living with a disability has many challenges, taking the life of an individual with disabilities is never acceptable. As Michael McCarron wrote in a comment on Autism Vox:
I would like to say something about Katie. Some newspapers have reported that this was done to end Katie’s pain; let me assure you that “Katie was not in pain”. She was a beautiful, precious and happy little girl. Each day she was showered with love and returned that love with hugs, kisses and laughter. Katie loved music; she would fill in some of the words in children’s songs as my wife would sing along with the CD that would be playing, their own version of “karaoke” . She liked to dance, she loved to do the “hooky poky”. She loved being in among flowers and tall grass. She would say “I like grass”. She enjoyed the zoo and because of all of the drills and flashcards she could identify the animals. Which I thought was pretty amazing for such a young child. She was also the only little child in her non-autistic play group that could identify an octagon. My wife and son had a party for her the day they heard that from the teacher…..
Each day I ask the Lord if I could take her place, and perhaps He could return Katie to the loving arms of my son and my wife. So far that prayer has not been granted. But in the meantime I can assure you that no one will describe her murder as “understandable” or devalue her in anyway without my personal challenge to them and the organizations they represent.
Katie, who is described as “beautiful, precious and happy” by her grandfather would have celebrated her 9th birthday this past July 22.
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Photo of Katie McCarron courtesy of Michael McCarron.