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Ex-Abilene CPS worker convicted in child's death case gets probation


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Former Child Protective Services case worker Gretchen Denny was sentenced to 60-days in jail and six years probation for her role in the death of a 22-month-old Abilene girl.

She is expected to turn herself in tomorrow.

Denny was convicted in April of tampering with evidence after a child died in 2012 as a result of malnourishment and neglect.

Closing arguments in the punishment phase began around 4 p.m.

The prosecution argued that Denny is not remorseful of her crime after she was found guilty. They said the only three words that would have mattered on the stand would be “I am sorry.” The prosecution also argued that she is a danger to society.

The defense argued that six years since the crime have been enough time to teach her a lesson. They said the message to the community is that probation is appropriate after all things considered.

The case centered around a photo of the deceased girl -- Tamryn Klapheke. Denny was accused of ordering another CPS worker to delete the photo to keep it from medical personnel.

Police said they found a lack of cooperation from CPS during its investigation. The died of neglect in 2012 while under her mother Tiffany Klapheke’s care.

Several witnesses took the stand including Denny herself, who stated she accepted the guilty verdict and asked for probation, saying she has never been in trouble with the law in the past.

Denny’s sister, with tears in her eyes, also took the stand. She said the last six years have consumed their family, and that Denny is remorseful for what she did.

Denny’s father said probation would be the right sentence. He said that way Denny can continue serving the community.

The prosecution's witnesses included former and current CPS employees. Witnesses argued that Denny gave them instructions to not cooperate with law enforcement.

The defense’s witnesses also included CPS employees. One witness said Denny was not very popular among other employees. She said she was willing to sacrifice her popularity for the betterment of the department, the children, and their families. Another CPS employee who took the stand said she saw Denny as a role model because she was very passionate about her job.

Denny's current supervisor at a dialysis center said she trusts Denny and she will continue to be employed.

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