Judge denies postponement request for mother accused of killing daughter


A Morton mother accused of suffocating her autistic daughter will not be given a sixth new trial date; she still is scheduled to go before a jury next month.


Judge Stephen Kouri denied a request by both the defense and prosecution to postpone Karen McCarron’s trial from Dec. 3 to Jan. 28.


McCarron and her attorney appeared in Tazewell County Circuit Court last week and requested the postponement to allow a mental health exam to be conducted.


In a seven-page decision, Kouri cited stall tactics by the defense and five previous postponements as reasons for the denial.


"It is apparent that the defendant’s legal team is no closer to presenting her affirmative defense of insanity than they were at the start of or any time during this case," Kouri wrote after detailing numerous delays and postponements that have occurred since the case was opened in May 2006.


"It is further apparent that any deadline suggested by (McCarron’s) attorney (Marc Wolfe) is at best hollow, and at worst an intentional misrepresentation to the court."


Kouri said on June 8, 2006, McCarron was arraigned "and the first of what would eventually become five trial date settings was set for June 26, 2006."


Kouri said the constant delays can jeopardize the case and also tie up valuable court time.


"There is obvious tactical advantages to an out-of-custody defendant placing the brakes on today’s sometimes slow-moving wheels of justice," he said. "Generally, witnesses sometimes lose interest, often relocate to unknown locations, and, most importantly, memories fade for those who do ultimately testify.


"Of equal importance is the public’s trust and confidence in our criminal justice system. Reasonable delay in the search for truth builds public confidence. Excessive delays erode it."


In a videotaped interview, McCarron told police she took daughter Katherine to her mother’s house and let her play before suffocating her with the bag. She told police the child died within about two minutes.


McCarron told police she drove the body back to her own house, took a shower and returned to her mother’s house to retrieve the plastic bag and dispose of it.


McCarron, a former pathologist, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of obstructing justice and one count of concealment of a homicidal death and is free on $1 million bond.


Kevin Sampier can be reached at (309) 346-5300 or ksampier@pjstar.com.