Roseville mother enters not guilty plea, denies allegations in toddler's death

6:47 PM, Jun 19, 2012   |    comments
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Denise Wilder

ROSEVILLE, CA - The Roseville mother, charged in connection with her 2-year-old daughter's death, entered a not guilty plea and denied all allegations during her arraignment in Placer County court on Tuesday.

Story: Roseville mom charged in toddler's death

Denise Wilder is charged with cruelty to a child by abuse, neglect or endangering health. She is being held at the Placer County Jail without bail.

As Wilder's family left the jail on Tuesday, Denise's mother, Gail McGrath, covered her head and tried to hide herself from the media.

"I have no comment, but thank you for inquiring about the welfare of our family," McGrath said.

Mark Wilder, McKinley's father and Denise's ex-husband, had no comment as he left the jail, carrying a Minnie Mouse stuffed animal.

McKinley Wilder's body was found inside McGrath's home on Diamond Oaks Road in Roseville. It happened in April while McGrath and her husband, Daniel, were out of the country. McGrath's daughter, Denise Wilder, and Wilder's children had been staying at the home.

According to the Placer County District Attorney's Office, Denise Wilder was the only adult present with her children when emergency responders arrived and found the toddler dead.

At the time, police said Denise was extremely intoxicated. She was arrested and charged with murder, but was later released pending the completion of the toddler's autopsy report.

The final coroner's report showed McKinley died because of acute alcohol toxicity and acute malnutrition. Wilder was rearrested last Friday. She was also charged with endangering the life of McKinley's 5-year-old sister.

"There are penalties for willful child abuse with life sentences. They didn't charge her with that," Wilder's attorney Jess Bedore said. "I don't know if anybody thinks she willfully intentionally did anything to that child."

As Denise Wilder left the courtroom on Tuesday, she nodded to her family in the audience.

"She's doing OK, under the circumstances, there's nobody (who) feels more sorry about her daughter's death than her," Bedore said.

In court documents filed in Placer County, Mark Wilder alleged his children often had dirty faces, were unkempt and complained of hunger after he picked them up from their mother.

Mark Wilder's attorney Mike Haskell provided a statement to family and friends last week after Denise Wilder was arrested.

"There is a beautiful 5-year-old little girl who has been waking up with night terrors since April 4, 2012; waking up terrified of her (allegedly) monstrous mother." Haskill wrote. "And waking up, God help her, wracked with guilt for failing to save her baby sister."

Denise Wilder is scheduled for a bail hearing on July 5. She has a family court appearance later this week. 


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