The Wiscasset woman under indictment on a charge of murder in connection with the December death of her fiance’s 4-year-old granddaughter pleaded not guilty during her arraignment at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Wiscasset on Friday, Jan. 12.
Shawna L. Gatto, 43, appeared before Justice William R. Stokes, who set November as a tentative trial date.
Stokes set Gatto’s bail at $250,000 cash, half the amount requested by Assistant Attorney General John Alsop. If she makes bail, she will remain under house arrest.
The grand jury handed up the indictment on a charge of depraved indifference murder Wednesday, Jan. 3. Gatto “did engage in conduct that manifested a depraved indifference to the value of human life and which in fact caused the death of” Kendall Chick on Dec. 8.
Chick lived with her grandfather, Stephen Hood, 53, and Gatto, her primary caregiver, at 19 Crickets Lane in Wiscasset. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services placed her in the home in January 2017.
The Wiscasset Ambulance Service responded to the home for a report of an unresponsive 4-year-old girl the afternoon of Dec. 8. An ambulance crew brought Chick to Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, where she was pronounced dead.
Chick died of a blunt-force injury to the abdomen that caused “lacerations of her pancreas” and other internal injuries, according to a report by Maine State Police Detective Jonathan Heimbach, which cites the findings of Maine’s chief medical examiner. She also sustained blunt-force trauma to the head and numerous other injuries, and showed signs of “chronic physiological stress.”
Gatto was Chick’s primary caregiver and told investigators she was the only person alone with her the day of her death, according to the detective’s report. Police found evidence of “trauma and subsequent cleanup” of blood in multiple rooms in the house.
Maine State Police detectives arrested Gatto at the home six days after Chick’s death, on the evening of Dec. 14.
Gatto has denied causing Chick’s injuries, according to Heimbach.
Waldoboro attorney Philip S. Cohen and Camden attorney Jeremy Pratt are representing Gatto.
Hood was in court to watch Gatto enter her plea Friday. He declined comment on the case.