Roseville, CA – In a rather disappointing, anticlimactic motion, a Roseville woman has pled no-contest in response to charges connected to the 2012 death of her 2-year-old daughter.
An October sentencing date has been set for Denise McGrath Wilder, who was rearrested after authorities performed an autopsy on her daughter McKinley. Wilder was temporarily released pending the coroner’s findings from her initial arrest.
Official results of the exam revealed the toddler died due to acute alcohol toxicity and acute malnutrition. Authorities later disclosed that Wilder’s 5-year-old daughter had also fallen ill due to alcohol consumption, but managed to survive.
Wilder was charged with two felony counts of child abuse and a single count of neglect as a result, reports The Sacramento Bee. Wilder was initially arrested on April 4, 2012 after McKinley’s death was classified as a homicide. Reports indicate at the time the woman was found intoxicated and the only adult present.
Preceding the criminal allegations of child abuse, Wilder had endured a relatively nasty divorce from her husband Mark, 43, battling for custody over their two children.
Horrible accusations were made back-and-forth between the two parties. Wilder’s lawyer, Kresta Daly, cited the stress from the ordeal as the primary catalyst for the alcohol that led to the death of one child and the near-poisoning of the other.
Based on Daly’s account, Wilder suffered from periodic bouts of depression over the looming divorce, and ultimately underwent a nervous breakdown while removing her husband’s belongings from the couple’s residence.
The 37-year-old went to her parent’s home – they were out of town – and began to drink heavily, to the point where she passed out. The children then had access to the alcohol without supervision.
Representatives speaking on behalf of Wilder’s ex-husband found the story shady, given that the children had not been fed for days and it was obvious their mother had failed to meet their basic needs.
During their divorce, Wilder frequently made attempts to alienate the kids from their father, petitioning for sole guardianship and filing a restraining order, claiming Mark was an unfit father, according to The Modesto Bee. Each time Mark managed to regain partial custody as Wilder’s drinking problem and her failure to comply to regular court ordered testing had been factored.
Nolo contendere, better known as a plea of no contest, is a Latin legal term which means, “I do not wish to contend.” In criminal trials in certain US jurisdictions, this plea allows the defendant to neither admit nor dispute a charge, instead serving as an alternative to a pleading guilty or not guilty.
A no-contest plea, while not technically a guilty plea, has the same immediate effect as a guilty plea, and is often offered as a part of a plea bargain. In Wilder’s case, her attorney reports the plea was submitted without a prearranged sentencing agreement in place with the Placer County District Attorney’s Office.
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