JULIETTE SERENITY GUERTS - 2 yo/ Accused: Mother; Charyse Geurts - (2008) Gering NE

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JULIETTE SERENITY GUERTS - 2 yo/ Accused: Mother; Charyse Geurts - (2008) Gering NE

Post by twinkletoes on Fri Aug 12, 2011 7:44 am

Fighting for Juliette

By Annie Hamilton

Oct. 10, 2010
Statistics rarely give an accurate portrayal of the state of children’s rights in America and in fact, according to Jeffrey Bennett, former mayor of Corona, California, fatal child battery and abuse has risen at least 40 % since 1992.

I was first introduced to this horrific reality in 2001 when researching a case in the Pacific Northwest and sadly, the situation has not improved for our Nation’s kids.

Recently I heard about Juliette Geurts, a two-year old twin from Gering, Nebraska, who died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head as well as a four-inch laceration to the liver that caused internal bleeding.

At the time of her death, three adults were present in the tiny home, her mother (CHARYSE GEURTS) and both of the Mother’s boyfriends (DUSTIN CHAUNCEY AND BRANDON TOWNSEND)

The investigation into this child’s murder has been weak at best. No one sealed the crime scene until five days following her death, her twin was not taken into protective custody until four days following Juliette’s murder and since her killing, and all three people of interest have fled town and apparently prosecution.


To add insult to injury it’s widely known that one month prior to Juliette’s killing, DUSTIN CHAUNCEY was involved in another horrible event (he attacked another person with a baseball bat) which resulted in a short stint in prison. Guess who drove the car that delivered Chauncey to the attack?

CHARYSE GEURTS. No charges were filed against her; she was never even questioned although she’s confirmed as being ‘present’ in the police report.

This woman had two men living with her and her twin toddlers in a tiny home, knowing that at least one of them had violent tendencies and a hair-trigger temper. No one has questioned her in Juliette’s murder nor have they bothered to question either man.

How is this possible?

(When Jaelyn was taken into custody, four days after Juliette’s killing, it was noted that she had large bruises on her neck as though someone had grabbed her.

Still no investigation although Jaelyn is in the custody of her paternal grandparents in Wisconsin and her Father, although as a Soldier, he’s in Afghanistan and must deal with this from afar)

Is anyone wondering yet how this can happen? How the authorities could be so incompetent as to allow this to continue on in such a disgusting fashion?

DAVE WARNER, local attorney and aspiring politician (running unchallenged) not only has no answers for the victim’s family, he is refusing to release the police report and related information so they can investigate on their own or have closure.

Countless phone calls, emails and letters have been sent and filed on Juliette’s behalf, to no avail. No one seems very interested in attaining justice for this child.





mayor@gering.org and 308-436-5096



Dave Heineman 402-471-2244 or 308-632-1370



Please join me in demanding justice for Juliette. Not only is it unconscionable for her killing to go unpunished it’s immoral for the investigation to continue falling through the cracks of Nebraska’s inadequate system.

Thank you, in advance, for helping raise awareness around this little girl.

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Re: JULIETTE SERENITY GUERTS - 2 yo/ Accused: Mother; Charyse Geurts - (2008) Gering NE

Post by twinkletoes on Fri Aug 12, 2011 7:53 am

Justice for Juliette

  • Father seeks justice for murdered daughter

    By Dawn Bowen

    Casey Geurts is an American soldier with an unshakable resolution to defend
    his country. He is equally a father with an unwavering determination to
    identify his daughter’s murderer.

    “I will not let my daughter’s death be left unsolved,” he said in a statement sent from an undisclosed location in south-central Asia where he is serving in the United States Army.

    More than two years have passed since the child, Juliette Geurts, age 2, died at her home in Gering. The case remains open, with local police and the state attorney general’s office continuing to investigate.

    No arrests have been made and Casey and his family members are understandably growing impatient. Casey is concerned that mistakes have been made by the authorities and he questions whether the investigation has been handled correctly.

    “What happened is a tragedy and what makes it especially worse is how they have seemed to let things slip through their hands and dropped the ball on so many things,” he said. “They have left a sour taste in an already bitter mouth.”

    The authorities, including investigators and Doug Warner of the Scotts Bluff County Attorney’s Office, have said they are continuing to comb through the details of the crime and insist the case is a top priority and has not grown cold.

    The family has established a Facebook page to ensure the child’s death is not forgotten – “Justice for Juliette” – has more than 6,700 fans and features dozens
    of photographs of Juliette and her twin sister Jaelyn. A petition is being circulated urging authorities to take action on the case and bring the murderer to justice. For Casey, a deep-rooted personal obligation to make certain the case is solved and justice is served abides with him every minute.

    “As a father, I owe it to her, to Jaelyn, my family and myself to find out what happened and who was responsible,” he said. “The petition itself is something that can just take us one step closer to what is owed to Juliette and our family.”

    Casey was in basic military training at Ft. Benning, Ga., on July 11, 2008, when he received an urgent message from the American Red Cross telling him to call his mother due to a family emergency. He called his mother, Mary Jo Geurts, and she told him that Juliette had died.

    Initially Casey and his family believed the child’s death was caused by a medical problem. In the days after the child was laid to rest, however, they would be faced with horrific news – the authorities were classifying her death as a homicide.

    Upon receiving the call from his mother, Casey was immediately placed on emergency leave and flew home to Gering the next day. He says when he arrived home Charyse Geurts, the child’s mother, told him Juliette had fallen at her grandmother’s house and had been taken to the hospital the day before she died, but later passed away due to head trauma.

    A funeral service was held on a Thursday afternoon, July 17, 2008, at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Scottsbluff and the child was laid to rest at Sunset Memorial Park.

    As Casey was traveling back to Fort Benning on the last day of his emergency leave, his cell phone rang. This time the call was from the Nebraska attorney general’s office saying autopsy results were in. It was at that time Casey learned the authorities believed his child had not died from medical problems, but from child abuse and injuries that included blunt force trauma and a lacerated liver.

    “It was a very rough day for me,” Casey said.

    Juliette and Jaelyn were born on Nov. 2, 2005, at Regional West Medical Center.
    Casey says the girls were quite close, even as tiny babies.

    “They had a special bond that only twins can have,” he said. “They always played together and they felt each other’s feelings and thoughts.”

    Casey recalled once when Jaelyn had received vaccinations, little Juliette was fussing and acting as though she was the one who had received the shots.

    “It was amazing to see them interact and play with each
    other as babies and as they grew older,” he said. “They never needed
    words to know what the other wanted or what the other was saying. They
    almost had a second language in their own little heads that helped them
    communicate and respond to each other. It was something very, very

    Casey said although Juliette was a twin, she was quite unique and was a “special little girl” who was curious, outgoing and always active.

    “She was known for never being shy,” Casey said, “always talking to people and never having an ounce of fear. It’s hard to think she’s no longer here.”

    In July 2008, Juliette was living with her twin sister and her mother at a house in the 1900 block of Third Street in Gering. Also residing at the house were two men, Dustin Chauncey and Brandon Townsend. Casey and Charyse had separated in December 2007 and Casey had enlisted in the Army in June 2008.

    According to the child’s family members, at 3 a.m. on July 11, 2008, Charyse and
    Dustin took Juliette to the emergency room at Regional West Medical Center saying they had seen her suffer a seizure and she had a fever. After about an hour, the child was sent home from the hospital with the understanding that she would be monitored closely.

    Approximately eight hours after the child had been taken to the hospital, Charyse
    called 911 from a neighbor’s house saying Juliette was not breathing.
    Police and emergency medical personnel responded to the call and an
    investigation ensued. Juliette was pronounced dead at the house by the
    medical examiner. It was believed that she had been deceased for several

    The case remains open at the Gering Police Department and
    at the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office. Police Chief Mel Griggs has
    declined to comment about the investigation, but he said the Gering
    police are still involved and are taking direction from Warner, a former
    assistant attorney general who is now handling the case from the Scotts
    Bluff County Attorney’s office.

    Although all three adults – the
    child’s mother and the two men – are believed to have been in the house
    when the injuries to the child occurred, the investigation did not
    immediately lead to the filing of any criminal charges and no arrests
    have been made.

    Warner said an investigator with the attorney
    general’s office volunteered to look at the case earlier this year and
    conduct his own investigation from a fresh perspective. That second-step
    investigation has been completed and during a telephone interview last
    week Warner said he is currently reviewing the results.

    “At this
    time I have made no decision about the case,” Warner said, adding that
    even though early in the investigation authorities were not able to
    quickly obtain the evidence necessary to identify the killer, much work
    has been done on the case.

    “We’ve made progress,” he said. “This case has a high probability of having a successful outcome.”

    Warner said he understands the family’s frustration, given the fact that two years have passed since the child’s death.

    “I know it would have been ideal to have someone in custody right away,” he said.

    he said having more suspects, or clear suspects in any case, doesn’t
    necessarily mean the case is easier – or more difficult – to solve. Each
    investigation requires an approach that is methodical and thorough,
    with the ultimate goal being a solid case that brings the killer(s) to

    “You only get one shot at it,” Warner said, adding that
    filing charges against any one or all three of the individuals before
    the investigators have proven the facts of the case and positively
    identified the killer or killers would be irresponsible.

    “You don’t charge someone just to charge someone,” he said. “That would not be in the best interest of the case.”

    of the three adults who were in the house when the alleged child abuse
    occurred has been questioned several times, Warner said. He would not
    discuss the details of the case in the interest of protecting the
    integrity of the investigation.

    Warner said he has received
    numerous telephone calls since a member of Juliette’s family posted his
    contact information, including his cell phone number, on the Internet.
    While he said he knows the frustration the family is experiencing, he
    hopes they will understand that the telephone calls are taking up a
    considerable amount of time and are not helpful.

    “I have an
    interest in trying to get this case resolved,” he said, adding that the
    case is of the highest priority in his caseload.

    Warner declined
    to put a timetable on the resolution of the case, but he said he
    believes the case is very “doable” and he is confident it will have a
    successful outcome.

    “I don’t think this is a dead end case,” he said.

    the meantime, the family is struggling to cope with their own grief
    while trying to ease the pain of Juliette’s twin who misses her sister

    “My little girl is no longer here and I know how hard
    it is for me to accept this,” Casey said. “But it has to be a million
    times harder for Jaelyn, especially at that age, not having the words or
    even knowing the empty feeling she has or how to express it.”

    is being cared for in another state by Casey’s mother while Casey
    continues in his military career. The family is committed to making sure
    Jaelyn never forgets the sister she once had.

    “As Jaelyn grows, I
    believe that she needs to know she had a twin sister and that they had a
    special bond,” Casey said. “I will always remind her that her sister
    loved and loves her always and forever and that she is always watching
    over her in every moment of her life.”

    He said he wants Jaelyn to know that he did everything possible to bring her sister’s killer to justice.

    will know that we have done everything within our power and will, that
    every ounce of energy was used to find out the truth of what happened
    and that the people responsible got what they deserved,” he said.

    Juliette, he said, should be remembered not by her tragic death, but by the life she lived for only a short while.

    want my daughter remembered as who she was – a daughter, a friend and a
    sister who will always be remembered by the ones who love her and the
    memories we have of her,” Casey said.

    about 4 months ago
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Re: JULIETTE SERENITY GUERTS - 2 yo/ Accused: Mother; Charyse Geurts - (2008) Gering NE

Post by twinkletoes on Fri Aug 12, 2011 8:06 am

Justice for Juliette Geurts

2 August 2011

Serenity Geurts, age 2, was beaten to death on 11 July 2008, in her
home with her mother and her [boy]friends, while dad Casey was in the
Army over seas. It has been said that Juliette, a twin with Jaelyn
Geurts, was outgoing, spitfire and she wasn’t afraid of anything.

took Law Enforcement 5 days to seal off the house and conduct an
investigation on Juliette’s death, that should have been done
immediately! There was no drug testing on the 3 that were at the house
when Juliette was murdered.

Doug Warner is the County Attorney
who is the only one able to comment on this story. When contacted by
Monica Hall, Juliette’s aunt he had this to say:

Warner: “I am going to try to make this case work.” TRY is his word!
Monica Hall: “Well, I hope you’re telling me the truth. I hope for Juliette’s sake, you’re telling me, you’ll find justice for her.”
Warner: “Now,
don’t give me that for Juliette. Do you know how many dead babies I’ve
worked on? I’ve worked on dozens of dead baby cases.”
From FOX42
really wonder how many cases he has really done, and convicted? But has
he really worked on DOZEN of murdered baby cases? Seems he is a fool.

[Vardeman] Geurts, Dustin Chauncey and Brandon Townsend were in the
house at the time of Juliette’s death. I guess it isn’t very easy to at
least change the Mother with Child neglect, Child endangerment, child
abuse and anything that goes on with this case. When and IF the
terrible County of Scotts Bluff can figure anything out they can charge
her with murder at a later date! There is no statue of limitations on
murder, but 3+ years is a long time to not have at least one of these
adults charge.

I have found only 1 article on this murder. It is
apparent that there isn’t much attention to it, and maybe emailing
these Chief and Sheriff and the FBI we can bring some light on this
case. Shame on the Gering Police department and the County attorney.

Chief of Police in Gering Nebraska:
Mel Griggs, Police Chief
Email: mgriggs@gering.org

Scotts Bluff County Sheriff:
Mark L Overman, Sheriff
Email: moverman@scottsbluffcounty.org
FBI Omaha Nebraska

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JULIETTE GEURTS - 2 yo (2008) - Gering NB

Post by MommaJ1086 on Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:05 am

Two years after the death of 2-year-old Juliette Geurts, the toddler’s aunt holds fond memories.

Elizabeth Schulte, of Stillwater, Minn., says she didn’t get to see the daughter of her brother, Casey, and his wife, Charyse, very often. With more than 800 miles between the two families, she often talked to the little girl when her brother would put her on the phone.

Juliette and her twin, Jaelyn, were a year old when Casey and Charyse Geurts were married, Schulte said, as she recalls her fondest memories.

“She (Juliette) was a feisty twin. She was outgoing. Jaelyn was a little more softer-hearted and she stayed closer to her parents. Juliette was a little more daring,” Schulte recollects, saying that Juliette went to visiting relatives more often than her shy twin.

When the girls were learning to walk, they toddle around in their dad’s shoes. Casey and Charyse Geurts separated in December 2007, Schulte said.

“When he called them, he would talk to them about walking in daddy’s shoes. He said it was one of the things that he missed the most.”

Seven months after the couple separated, on July 11, 2008, the Geurts family received the news that the outgoing twin had died.

Initially, Elizabeth and her mother Mary Jo Geurts said, they were told that the girl had suffered some medical problems. They immediately set to trying to reach Casey Geurts, who had enrolled in the military to make a better life for his daughters. He was difficult to reach during his basic training for the U.S. Army.

Soon, the family learned there was more about the story behind Juliette’s death. The toddler had been treated at Regional West Medical Center at about 3 a.m. for a febrile seizure, a seizure attributed to a high fever. She was released into the care of her mother, Charyse Geurts. Nearly eight hours later, her mother reported, she found the child dead in her crib at her Gering home.

“Charyse claimed that Juliette had a fever,” Schulte said. “But in her casket, you could see the bruising on her head through her fair hair.”

An autopsy confirmed the worst fears. Doctors determined that Juliette Geurts had been severely beaten and Juliette Geurts had died of blunt force trauma to the head. A copy of the autopsy acquired by the Star-Herald listed Juliette’ Geurts death as a homicide.

The Geurts family had some indication of the ruling as family members of Charyse Geurts gave them snippets of information. However, Schulte said, her family learned the findings of the autopsy in much the same way as everyone else — they learned about the findings, released by then-county attorney Derek Weimer, through the media.

“No one has ever sat down with us and explained to us the findings of the autopsy,” Schulte said. “We had never seen the autopsy until recently, when Casey’s attorney obtained it for a custody case.”

Only three people were in the home at the time of Juliette’s death — Charyse Geurts, her boyfriend and another male who lived at the home. No one has been charged in connection with the girl’s death.

“One of the adults in that home murdered Juliette,” Mary Jo Geurts, Juliette Geurts grandmother, said, adding that she believes all three of the adults have covered up facts in the case. “They are living like nothing happened. The police have never arrested anyone or even put any pressure on anyone in the case.

“Here, we are sitting here two years later and there have been no charges,” she said. “You have three people in the home and a mother who claimed that her child was sick when she was clearly beaten.”

The family believes various missteps were made in the case. They say Gering Police had not sealed off the home where Juliette died, although a search warrant was served and items such as blankets were seized, according to a search warrant affidavit. They also believe that the three adults should have been questioned within a few hours of the discovery of Juliette’s death, but say that they weren’t questioned for days.

Later, as the family sought temporary custody of Juliette’s twin, Jaelyn, as part of a divorce case filed by Casey Geurts, the family was able to obtain an affidavit from an investigator naming Charyse Geurts as a person of interest in the case. Daycare officials, neighbors and others provided affidavits alleging neglect and other abuse. The Geurts family said those individuals told them police had not questioned them, and the family provided copies of the affidavits to prosecutors at their request.

The case changed hands from former prosecutor Derek Weimer, who is now a judge, onto current Scotts Bluff County Attorney Tiffany Wasserburger, which has also compounded the family’s frustration. Wasserburger referred the case to the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, where Assistant Attorney General Doug Warner is overseeing the case.

Since taking over the case, Warner assigned an investigator through the attorney general’s office. Warner talked about the main problem in the case during an interview this week.

“The issue has been identifying the killer,” Warner said. “There were three individuals in the home. When the case came to us, there was not sufficient evidence to identify the killer. That is what the focus has been since we took over the case.”

The investigation has been completed, and Warner said he would be reading over the investigator’s reports to decide the next steps in the case.

“I have to make a decision on whether or not there is a provable case,” he said. “The worst thing that I can do is file a case that I can’t prove. You can’t file charges, try a case, and then go back and do it all over again (if you don’t win). … You shouldn’t file charges unless you are ready to go to trial, and that is the way it has to be.”

While the family expressed concerns that the case hasn’t received a lot of attention, Warner said he knows that a lot of work has been done on the case and progress has been made. He called the case tough and said the focus has been on ensuring an investigation is done thoroughly and properly, rather than focusing on speed.

“Charging someone isn’t the goal,“ Warner said, saying that he understands that families of victims often get frustrated by the process of investigating a case and bringing it to trial. “Solving it properly is the goal. Once you solve it, everything else falls into place.”

Charyse Geurts, who is currently embroiled in divorce proceedings with Casey Geurts, said her daughter’s death and the events after it have been emotional for her. She denies knowing anything about Juliette’s death and declined to consent to a formal interview for this story. She did release the following statement:

“I am interested in seeing the person responsible prosecuted and punished for this crime. I have been assisting the police in finding the person responsible who killed my daughter. Not a day passes that I do not think about her. I wish there was something more that I could do. All of my kids mean the world to me. I really miss her greatly.”

Casey Geurts deployed just last week to Afghanistan, serving a second tour there with the Army Rangers. Casey had been awarded temporary custody of Jaelyn Geurts after Juliette’s death. Jaelyn is currently in the custody of Mary Jo Geurts, who cares for Jaelyn while Casey is deployed.

As part of divorce proceedings, Casey and his family are seeking permanent custody of Jaelyn, who they say has done well after moving with the family to Wisconsin. Casey and Charyse Geurts have since had a third daughter, Arianna, who was born in Texas. The divorce case had stalled pending Arianna’s birth, but Casey Geurts recently renewed his divorce petition, adding that he is also seeking custody of Arianna if paternity tests confirm that she is his daughter.

While Casey and Charyse had an “oil and water relationship,” the Geurts family said Casey loves his children and took care of them even while the couple was separated before Juliette’s death. Today, he only wants to ensure the safety of his children, they said.

“Casey doesn’t want to have to worry about Jaelyn going back or what might happen to Arianna,” Elizabeth Geurts said. “He is going over to Afghanistan with all of this on his mind and it is very hard.”

The Geurts family continues to lobby for “Justice for Juliette,” launching a Facebook page and a petition to call attention to Juliette’s case this week. The family said they “want someone to fight for Juliette like she is worth something” and will continue to call for action in the case.

“This is about a little girl who deserves more. I don’t know of any other state where a little girl would die and not get the justice that she deserves. … We want her sister to know that we did everything we could as a family to make sure that justice is served and that we have kept her safe,” Mary Jo Geurts said.

“You can’t just let a precious life like that be buried and forgotten about. We are just asking for someone to do something,” she said. “We need the people who can try this case to do their part.”


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Re: JULIETTE SERENITY GUERTS - 2 yo/ Accused: Mother; Charyse Geurts - (2008) Gering NE

Post by MommaJ1086 on Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:08 am

I had a hard time finding any actual news on this case as it's a 4 year old case now, but this comes from the family's memorial site, it is an actual article, one of the few that have been put out there

You can find the article at justiceforjuliette.org it's found in the about Juliette section under the Juliette in the news heading.

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Re: JULIETTE SERENITY GUERTS - 2 yo/ Accused: Mother; Charyse Geurts - (2008) Gering NE

Post by twinkletoes on Thu Mar 08, 2012 2:21 am

The above undated article is 2 years old.
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Re: JULIETTE SERENITY GUERTS - 2 yo/ Accused: Mother; Charyse Geurts - (2008) Gering NE

Post by mom_in_il on Thu Aug 09, 2012 4:37 pm

Grand Jury to Consider Nebraska Girl's Death

Posted: Wed 3:19 PM, Aug 08, 2012
Reporter: Associated Press Email

A grand jury will investigate the 2008 death of a 2-year-old Gering girl.

A Scotts Bluff County judge says Wednesday that a grand jury will be convened in the death of Juliette Geurts. An autopsy showed she died of blunt-force trauma to the head and abdomen.

District Judge Randy Lippstreu's decision follows a petition with more than 1,700 signatures. Nebraska is among six states that allow grand juries to convene by petition.

The petition was started earlier this year by relatives and others who were dissatisfied with the efforts to find out whether the toddler was a homicide victim and who might have killed her.

No date is set for the grand jury to convene.

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Re: JULIETTE SERENITY GUERTS - 2 yo/ Accused: Mother; Charyse Geurts - (2008) Gering NE

Post by Gingernlw on Fri Aug 10, 2012 3:49 pm

I follow this case closely on facebook. Hopefully, the grand jury will determine there is enough evidence to convict someone... there are only 3 adults to choose from!

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Re: JULIETTE SERENITY GUERTS - 2 yo/ Accused: Mother; Charyse Geurts - (2008) Gering NE

Post by mom_in_il on Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:22 pm

Grand Jury still investigating Geurts case

Posted: Sep 11, 2012 4:13 PM CDT
Updated: Sep 11, 2012 4:13 PM CDT

The special prosecutor for a grand jury says the investigation is still ongoing in the Juliette Geurts case.

Banner County Attorney Jim Zimmerman is spearheading efforts in the murder case of 2-year - old Juliette Geurts.

The toddler was killed in her Gering home in 2008. To this day, no arrests have been made.

Earlier this summer, petitioners collected enough signatures to force a grand jury investigation.

Zimmerman says he can't release information right now about the investigation, but will be able to once the grand jury's investigation is complete.

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Re: JULIETTE SERENITY GUERTS - 2 yo/ Accused: Mother; Charyse Geurts - (2008) Gering NE

Post by mom_in_il on Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:36 am

Charyse Geurts posts bond after turning herself in

A former Gering woman indicted earlier this month in the death over four years ago of her two year old daughter has posted bond after making her first appearance in Scotts Bluff County District Court.

Charyse Geurts is charged with being an accessory in the murder of Juliette Geurts and providing false information to police. Bell Island, the attorney for Charyse Geurts, says his client turned herself in to Scotts Bluff County authorities Thursday night and posted a $5,000 cash bond after the court hearing Friday.

Island maintains his client wants the person responsible for the death of Juliette prosecuted and punished.

26 year old Dustin Chauncey, who was sentenced to prison in Colorado last week on unrelated charges, is charged in the Geurts case with child abuse resulting in death and involuntary manslaughter. Local authorities plan on requesting Chauncey's return through the extradition process.

Island says in a statement that "not a day passes that Charyse does not think about her daughter". He says she has cooperated with Police in the investigation, does not know why she is being charged and maintains her innocence. Island would not comment on Geurts' version of what happened on the day of the murder because of the pending legal proceedings.

Geurts, Chauncey and another male were in the Gering home when Charyse reported she found Juliette dead in her crib on July 11th, 2008. The case has been investigated as a homicide after the autopsy showed the child died of blunt force trauma.

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Re: JULIETTE SERENITY GUERTS - 2 yo/ Accused: Mother; Charyse Geurts - (2008) Gering NE

Post by mermaid55 on Wed May 14, 2014 12:18 pm

Judge: Probable cause exists in toddler's death
Chauncey to face trial in ‘Justice for Juliette’ case

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 3:00 pm
By MAUNETTE LOEKS New Media Editor
The case against a Colorado man accused in the death of a 2-year-old girl five years ago will proceed.
Scotts Bluff County Judge Leo Dobrovolny ruled last week that probable cause exists to try Dustin Chauncey, a man accused in the July 11, 2008, death of Juliette Geurts. The girl died of blunt force trauma injuries and her case had not been prosecuted and had stalled until citizens circulated a petition for a grand jury to consider evidence in the girl’s death.
The grand jury indicted Chauncey on three charges, but only one charge — child abuse resulting in death, a Class IB felony — was allowed to remain because the statute of limitations had run out on the other two. Dobrovolny had earlier dismissed two charges — manslaughter, a Class II felony, and providing false information to an officer, a Class I misdemeanor.
Chauncey’s attorney, Todd Lancaster of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, had sought dismissal of that remaining charge. In a motion to the court, Lancaster said that the grand jury finding of probable cause had not been supported by the record.
In a ruling filed on April 15, Dobrovolny ruled there was sufficient evidence to determine probable cause on the charge of child abuse resulting in death.
In fact, Dobrovolny ruled, probable cause had existed for the grand jury indictment of Chauncey on the charge of manslaughter. He reserved ruling on the charge of providing false information to an officer, saying that further evidence would be necessary to rule on that charge.
In his ruling, Dobrovolny said that the defense had relied on testimony from one witness for its arguments. That testimony was referred to as Exhibit 1 in the ruling.
“Exhibit 1 shows that a crime was committed and probable cause that Dustin Chauncey committed the crimes of manslaughter and child abuse,” Dobrovolny said in the ruling.
The defense attorney had also sought the release of other evidence presented at the grand jury proceeding. Dobrovolny indicated in his ruling that prosecutors have 10 days to file a brief objecting to the motion, if desired. Grand jury proceedings are typically secret and testimony and evidence is sealed by the court. A ruling by a judge must be made to release testimony and evidence from the rulings.
To date, Dobrovolny has released the testimony of Brandon Townsend, one of three adults in the home at the time of Juliette Geurts’ death, and Dr. Richard Simmons, the pathologist that conducted the autopsy in the case. Courts typically release a defendant’s testimony from grand jury proceedings.
Juliette Geurts’ mother, Charyse Geurts, had also been in the home at the time of the girl’s death and had also been indicted by the grand jury. Charges against Charyse Geurts’ were dismissed because of the statute of limitations in the case. She had been charged with hindering an investigation and a misdemeanor count of providing false information.
Chauncey is currently scheduled for trial during the August jury term.
Scottsbluff attorney Jim Zimmerman has been assigned as a special prosecutor in the case. The Scotts Bluff County Attorney’s Office has been assisting.

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