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Mom pleads not guilty to reckless conduct, drug charges

Daughter severely burned in April house fire

POSTED: September 22, 2008 5:00 a.m.
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Patricia Darlene Turpin, who was arrested in connection with severe burns sustained by her young daughter in a house fire, pleaded not guilty to charges of reckless conduct and drug possession Thursday.

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A Gainesville woman arrested in connection with severe burns sustained by her young daughter in a house fire pleaded not guilty to charges of reckless conduct and drug possession Thursday.

Patricia Darlene Turpin was in the courtroom of Hall County Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin Thursday but left before her plea of not guilty was entered on her behalf by her attorney, Dan Summer.

Turpin, 38, is accused of leaving her 2-year-old daughter Gracie alone to play with a lighter that sparked a fire at their Jesse Jewell Parkway apartment on the morning of April 14.

Gracie Turpin spent nearly three months in an Ohio hospital for child burn victims and had a limb amputated. She suffered third-degree burns over 60 percent of her body. Authorities say they found cocaine and methamphetamine in Patricia Turpin’s apartment.

Turpin, who is free on $20,000 bond, was indicted by a grand jury in July on charges of second-degree cruelty to a child, reckless conduct, possession of cocaine and possession of methamphetamine.

Gainesville fire officials said Gracie Turpin was playing with a Zippo-style cigarette lighter when she caught a large upholstered chair on fire on the ground floor of the split-level apartment. She was burned on her head, face, chest, arms, legs, trachea and lungs, according to court records.

Bystanders and police were able to rescue the occupants of the apartment before firefighters arrived.

The girl was flown to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and later to Shriners Hospital for Children in Cincinnati, where she underwent numerous surgical procedures.

In addition to Gracie Turpin and her mother, two others were in the apartment at the time of the fire, which was confined to the living room.

Gracie Turpin’s grandfather, Willie Miller, sustained second- and third-degree burns to his neck and back. Another child, Tyler Turpin, escaped serious injury.

Times Editor Harris Blackwood contributed to this report.

 



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