Gatto indicted for ‘depraved indifference’ murder
A Lincoln County grand jury on Jan. 3 indicted Shawna Gatto, 43, of Wiscasset, in a charge of depraved indifference murder in the killing of Kendall Chick, 4, also of Wiscasset. Chick had been placed with Gatto and her grandfather, Stephen Hood, 53, in January 2017 by the Department of Health and Human Services. The family lived together at 19 Crickets Lane.
Chick died the afternoon of Dec. 8. Wiscasset Ambulance Service was called to the home to attend to an unresponsive 4-year-old child, who was then transported to Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick and later pronounced dead. According to court documents, the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the abdomen, causing laceration to the pancreas, among other severe injuries. Chick also had blunt force trauma to the head. According to Maine State Police Detective Jonathan Heimbach, who cited the Medical Examiner’s report, she showed signs of chronic physiological stress.
Evidence from the home included blood and signs someone had tried to clean up the site of trauma in several rooms. There was also an imprint on a wall in Chick’s bedroom that appeared to correspond with the child’s head.
Gatto denied injuring the child and said she was Chick’s sole caregiver that day. She said Chick had been placed in the bathroom because she had soiled herself and needed a bath. Gatto said she stepped away to get Chick a drink, and when she came back, Chick was unresponsive. Hood was at work at Bath Iron Works that day.
Gatto was arrested Dec. 14. Her attorney, Philip Cohen, waived a Harnish bail hearing for formerly capital crimes, and Gatto remains at Two Bridges Regional Jail. A status conference with Judge William Stokes is planned for the end of February. Stokes was assigned by Maine Superior Court Chief Justice Roland A. Cole.
Cohen and Jeremy Pratt will serve as co-counsels for the defense, while Lisa Marchese, chief of the state Attorney General’s Criminal Division, will prosecute the case. Calls to the attorneys for the state and the defense were not immediately returned.