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Wis. Parents Accused Of Child Neglect Appear In Court

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Wisconsin couple was in court Wednesday afternoon, facing charges of neglect after their 3-year-old daughter drowned near their home last month.

Reena Williams’ body was found in a canal near her family’s home in Danbury, Wis., in August after she wandered away from home, prompting a 24-hour search. A witness told police the girl’s father, 44-year-old Thomas Williams, was smoking synthetic marijuana minutes before his daughter disappeared. Another witness said the girl’s mother, 33-year-old Jenna Danish, admitted she was sleeping at the time her daughter wandered off.

In court, Thomas Williams became emotional when speaking about his daughter. He said his girl meant everything to him. Meanwhile, the girl’s mother kept silent.

“I’m having a really hard time,” Thomas Williams said as he left the courthouse.

When asked if he felt like he neglected his daughter, he said: “Are you crazy?”

Both the girl’s parents are free on bond as they await trial.

William Norine, the Burnett County district attorney, said the actions of Danish and Williams show a pattern of negligence.

According to the criminal complaint, witnesses described how Reena Williams was often discovered wandering neighborhood streets or near the backyard dam, alone. The complaint shows the house had water on three sides, had no fence and that officers found mind-altering drugs inside the home.

“There was a search warrant executed…which did reveal drug paraphernalia of various types plus synthetic marijuana,” Norine said.

The legality of the synthetic Marijuana hasn’t been determined in Wisconsin. Tests are now being run to determine if regular marijuana was also present. Depending on the outcome, the district attorney could add drug charges.

The next preliminary hearing, which is slated for Oct. 31, will allow the district attorney to present evidence to back up the information in the criminal complaint. Witnesses will be presented and the test results should be back.

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