Parents charged in connection with 3-year-old daughter's death - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Parents charged in connection with 3-year-old daughter's death

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BURNETT COUNTY, Wisconsin (WQOW) - Gripping testimony in the case of the Burnett County parents charged in connection with their young daughter's death.

Three and a half year old Reena Williams of Danbury wandered away from her home in August. Rescuers found her body in a canal just a few yards away.  Prosecutors charged Reena's parents, Jenna Danish and Thomas Williams with neglect, resulting in death.

At the Burnett County Government Center the judge made an important ruling in the case of 2 parents charged in the death of their young daughter. This summer -- Reena Williams wandered away from home--and drowned just 25 yards away. She was by herself.

Jenna Danish and Thomas Williams were in court Wednesday (10/31), where prosecutors laid out their case. Accusing the couple of neglect, resulting in death -- at their home surrounded by water.

District Attorney, William Norrine says, "When you have a circumstance where you have a very dangerous environment, I would argue the standard of care increases in that instance."

Where as Attorney, James Rennicke the Public Defender says, "We all as parents want to supervise our children. I think the overall history is that they did supervise their child."

Wednesday the judge heard from witness after witness about the girl apparently wandering off---up to a half-mile from home--numerous times.

Sheriff's Deputy Ryan Bybee testified he saw a sheet covering the kitchen window that had a direct view of the spot where reena drowned. 

"That's the river where Reena's body was found. That's the view Tom would have had, had he been looking out the window."

Bybee also testified a witness said he was smoking synthetic marijuana with Thomas Williams at the table by the window around the time Reena disappeared. Bybee quoted what that witness told him.

"He said, if he hadn't been stoned he might have been able to do..."

Both the defense and prosecution say this case is un-chartered territory. That's because even though both sides agree Reena Williams death was accidental prosecutors are alleging that accidental death was the result of neglect.

After the judge ordered the couple to stand trial Danish pleaded not guilty. Williams stood mute - so the judge entered not guilty on his behalf.  Danish's lawyer told the judge he plans to request separate trials for each defendant and intends to request moving the trial to another county due to pre-trial publicity.

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