Mom gets 16 years for abusing 7-year-old daughter to death

Posted at 8:00 PM, February 11, 2022 and last updated 12:41 AM, December 13, 2022

By: Robert Garrison

DENVER (KMGH) — A Colorado mother has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for negligent child abuse that resulted in the death of her 7-year-old daughter. Authorities said Kelly Turner lied to doctors about her daughter’s health, leading to unnecessary surgeries, medications, and ultimately killing the little girl.


Turner pleaded guilty in January to negligent child abuse, charitable fraud and theft between $100,000 and $1 million. She was initially charged in October 2019 with two counts of first-degree murder, among several other charges, in the August 2017 death of her 7-year-old daughter, Olivia Gant.

During her sentencing hearing Wednesday, Turner was given 16 years on the child abuse count, 10 years for the charitable fraud charge, and three years on the theft charge. Her sentences will run concurrently, meaning she will serve all three sentences simultaneously.

Turner was also ordered to serve a mandatory parole period of three years after she is released and pay restitution. The judge also stipulated Turner shall not gain financially from the case.

“This is not a perfect outcome, but this is not a perfect case,” said District Attorney John Kellner in a press release. “I’m proud of our team that fought so hard for justice — after so many years — for little Olivia.”

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office began its investigation into Turner in 2018 after receiving concerns from doctors and child welfare workers. Turner had been seeking treatment for her surviving daughter that wasn’t medically necessary, prosecutors said.

Her other daughter was moved from Turner’s care, and her health improved.

Psychiatrists say Turner’s behavior seems consistent with the psychological disorder Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Parents or caregivers with the disorder seek attention from the illness of their children or dependents and sometimes cause them injuries that require attention.

Prosecutors said Turner lied about not having access to private insurance and enrolled her family in Medicaid to pay for giant health care bills. They said Turner turned Olivia into a media story, and sought donations for her care, expenses and funeral on fundraising platforms and from charities.

Denver 7 profiled Olivia Gant in April of 2017 as she fulfilled a “bucket list” which included busting bad guys with Denver police officers. She was made honorary chief for a day and rode along with officers. She died about four months later.

Her body was exhumed in November 2018 so an autopsy could be performed. According to an indictment, Arapahoe County Coroner Dr. Kelly Lear wrote that Olivia’s manner of death was undetermined based on a series of nonspecific results.

She said there were no findings that proved intestinal failure caused Olivia’s death or any other illnesses her mother claimed she was suffering from.

During Wednesday’s court proceedings, prosecutors played a video of Olivia, which elicited an emotional response from participants in the virtual hearing.


Rober Garrison originally published this story for KMGH, an E.W. Scripps company. 

The Associated Press contributed to this story.