Gatto makes first court appearance on murder charge

Posted:  Friday, December 15, 2017 - 11:15am

Shawna Gatto, 43, of Wiscasset, charged with the murder of her fiance’s granddaughter, 4-year-old Kendall Chick, made her first court appearance Friday.

Gatto has been charged with depraved indifference murder, which carries the possibility of life in prison. Justice William Stokes said he would not accept a plea from Gatto during the first court appearance.  She is being represented by Philip Cohen of Waldoboro, who was her court-appointed attorney for the appearance. Cohen said he would remain on the case and asked for Stokes to appoint a co-counsel. That attorney is expected to be Jeremy Pratt of Camden, but the appointment is not yet finalized.

Gatto only spoke once during the hearing, to indicate she understood the charge.

Lisa Marchese, chief of the state Attorney General’s Criminal Division, will prosecute the case. She said her office is moving on a Harnish hearing, which would deny bail to the defendant.  A harnish hearing must occur within five court days from the initial court appearance, unless the defense waives the requirement. Cohen indicated the defendant would waive the requirement, and that he would be in touch with the A.G.’s office as soon as the defense was ready to proceed.

In the meantime, Gatto will be held without bail at Two Bridges Regional Jail.

Stokes said he would arrange a status conference within 30 days. He said he would unimpound, or make available, documents including the arrest warrant and the search warrant.

The child died Friday, Dec. 8, after blunt force trauma to the abdomen, according to a State Police press release. She was taken to Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, where she was later pronounced dead.