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Attorneys make closing arguments in Kipp trial

Arguments center on 911 call

POSTED: November 1, 2012 11:59 p.m.

Attorneys focused on knowledge, or lack thereof, on Thursday during closing arguments of a Gainesville woman on trial in connection with her daughter’s death.

Public defenders Travis A. Williams and Rob McNeill denied that Deanna Renee Kipp knew Stephen Clark West killed her daughter Kaylee Kipp and then conspired with him in a cover-up, as they said the prosecution implied during the past two weeks.

Deanna Kipp faces charges of one count of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, four counts of cruelty to a child in the first degree, two counts of providing false statements to police and one count each of aggravated assault, cruelty to a child in the second degree and concealing the death of another.

In August, Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller sentenced West, Deanna Kipp’s boyfriend, to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 20 years, in the June 2011 death of the 18-month-old.

“Anybody who thinks that (Deanna) hurt that kid is just wrong,” McNeill told jurors. “That woman loved that kid more than anything in the world.”

McNeill said law enforcement who responded to the scene of Kaylee Kipp’s death quickly concluded that Deanna Kipp was suspicious.

“Within 10 minutes of the (911) call, they had decided she was guilty,” he said. “She had no idea what was happening. She was as stunned as everyone else when (authorities were) asking her questions.”

Williams argued that Deanna Kipp was “shocked, disturbed at what she saw,” when she called 911. That call was played by the defense prior to closing arguments, and includes Deanna Kipp repeatedly saying “Oh my god” and hysterically wailing at one point.

“Remember that phone call,” Williams told jurors. “That phone call is critical; that phone call is genuine.”

Williams said the tone of the call disputed that Deanna Kipp lacked emotion about Kaylee Kipp’s death, as many first responders had testified.

Hall County’s chief assistant district attorney, Lindsay Burton, did not deny that there was emotion in the 911 call.

“She would be a sociopath if she had no reaction to (Kaylee Kipp’s death), even if she knew for hours,” she told jurors during her closing arguments. “It doesn’t mean she’s not guilty.”

The defense attorneys argued that the state’s case against Deanna Kipp hinged on the fact that she knew of Kaylee Kipp’s death and maintained a cover-up with West.

“There’s no evidence directly or indirectly that she aided or abetted Stephen West,” McNeill said. “If she doesn’t know the baby is dead, how can she conceal?”

Burton said Deanna Kipp was the only person who “places herself with the child all night long.”

Deanna Kipp had said in interviews that she went downstairs to the living room, where Kaylee Kipp was sleeping, to sleep the night the infant died.

Burton told jurors Deanna Kipp lied about seeing Kaylee Kipp lift her head a few hours before she was found dead.

“She’s lying about it,” Burton said. “She’s covering for Stephen; she’s covering for herself.”

Burton said Deanna Kipp did not protect any of her children.

“She chose Stephen every time she didn’t tell him to stop (beating the children),” she said. “She chose Stephen and herself every time she lied.”

During closing arguments, the state repeated thoughts from the beginning of the trial: “Sometimes what is not said is just as important as what is.”

Burton told jurors that Deanna Kipp did not ask police or first responders any questions because she already knew Kaylee Kipp was dead. She also said that West did not ask questions when Deanna Kipp told him about the girl’s death.

McNeill told jurors that people react differently in different situations and that law enforcement and first responders had “the audacity to tell you she didn’t act right.”

Williams said authorities only judged Deanna Kipp for her reaction, and did not aid her.

“As they sit there and look at her, no one had the decency to console her,” he said.


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