Judge Allows Katie Wernecke to Seek Alternative Cancer Treatment
The legal battle over whether 13-year-old Katie Wernecke should be forced to undergo cancer treatment was back in court Friday.
Focus on the case, began back in June, when Katie went into hiding with her mother to avoid treatment for Hodgkins Disease. They were found June 4, at a family ranch near Freer. Michelle Wernecke was arrested and Katie was placed in a foster home.
On June 10, court ordered tests and found active cancer cells in Katie. Judge Carl Lewis ruled she had to undergo medical treatment and remain in foster care until the treatment was completed.
During a September 6 hearing, Judge Lewis was told that Katie was refusing her cancer treatment. Two weeks later, on September 20th, Judge Lewis signed an order cutting off all contact between Katie and her parents, because he believed Mr. & Mrs. Wernecke were still trying to block Katie's medical treatment. Then, on October 14, Judge Lewis recused himself from the Wernecke case.
District Judge Jack Hunter, who has taken over the case, held an emergency hearing Friday to decide if Katie should continue her chemotherapy. He ruled that Katie would undergo chemotherapy treatment Friday.
However, he made a very controversial decision. Against the wishes of the state, Katie will be allowed to seek alternative medicine treatment.
"People are pulling her back and forth. I want that as court to stop. I don't care how it is. I want the child taken of," Judge Hunter said. With that passionate plea, Judge Hunter came to a compromise. After Katie recovers from chemotherapy, she and one or both of her parents will go to Wichita, Kansas.
There a doctor will examine her and determine if she's fit for an alternative form of cancer treatment, which includes giving her Vitamin C injections. Katie's parents and their attorney were not in court Friday, but argued via conference call, that previous court decisions didn't allow them the ability to seek other treatments.
"Then we want that order changed your honor, because we don't think it's the proper way to handle a situation like this," said Wernecke family attorney James Pikle. In light of the judges decision, the state still isn't happy. They fear that Katie's parents may not return the child once out of Texas.
"CPS can not agree to let her leave the state. That would have to be a decision of the court," said Asst. Nueces County Attorney Thomas Stuckey. They also say if Katie doesn't continue with her chemotherapy, then she's at risk of dying.
The state also gave insight into Katie's frail health. They said Katie's chances of surviving this cancer have dropped significantly from 80% to near 20%. The reason, they said was the constant delays in her chemotherapy treatment.