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POSTED: 04:28 PM CST Nov 06, 2013 UPDATED: 11:45 PM CST Nov 06, 2013
OZARK, Mo. – A Christian County grand jury indicted a woman from Republic for her daughter’s death exactly two years ago. Julie Horstmyer is charged with child endangerment and involuntary manslaughter for the death of Berklee Robertson, 2.
Horstmyer’s former neighbor, Gerri Wallen, doesn’t remember ever seeing the young mother or her daughter, Berklee, “The blinds were never open. We never knew there was a lady or a child living there,” said Wallen.
Although Wallen didn’t know Horstmyer, she vividly recalls what she saw exactly two years ago.
“When I came home, there were several police cars and the coroner’s car and an ambulance,” said Wallen.
On Nov. 5, 2011, sheriff’s deputies went to the home at 309 Little Ave. in Clever at the request of Clever police officers to investigate Berklee’s death. The indictment says investigators believe Horstmyer caused Berklee’s death by giving her sertraline, a prescription drug whose brand name is Zoloft. It’s used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorders, and anxiety disorders.
“There was always a very strong suspicion during the course of the investigation,” said Christian County Sheriff Joey Kyle on Wednesday.
The sheriff said forensic evidence collected later made the case considerably stronger.
“It’s primarily stuff like trace elements, toxicology reports, opinions from pathologists,” said Kyle.
Beyond what’s in the indictment, many details about the case may not be public until trial because grand jury indictments go straight to circuit courts, and don’t require probable cause statements that often provide details in cases.
While Wallen didn’t know Horstmyer, she did know the woman’s then boyfriend, and she’ll never forgot a conversation they had about Berklee after the toddler’s death.
“He just said that they put her to bed one night and they had given her a little bit of medicine — he thought. He went to wake her up the next morning to play with her and she didn’t respond,” said Wallen.
The indictment for first-degree involuntary manslaughter says Horstmyer “recklessly caused the death of (Berklee) by causing (Berklee) to ingest sertaline.” It says the mother endangered the welfare of her child “by failing to seek medical assistance for (Berklee) after (Berklee) ingested setraline.”
Horstmyer was in the Christian County jail on Wednesday in lieu of a $75,000 bond. Her first court appearance before a circuit judge was scheduled for Friday morning. If she’s convicted, she could face a prison sentence up to seven years on each charge.
- Copyright 2013, KY3 News