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Couple enters not guilty pleas in death of 3-year-old daughter

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BURNETT COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - Not guilty pleas have been entered for a northwest Wisconsin couple accused of felony child neglect in the death of their three-year-old daughter.

42-year-old Thomas Williams of Danbury and his 33-year-old wife Jenna Danish were ordered to stand trial after a three-hour preliminary hearing Wednesday in Burnett County.

Danish pleaded not guilty to her fatal neglect charge. Her husband stood mute, and the judge entered the plea.

The couple is charged in the death of 3-year-old Renna Williams. She was reportedly searching for a dog when she wandered away from the family’s home in mid-August.

Prosecutors said Williams had smoked synthetic marijuana right before that time – and his wife was sleeping. A neighbor reported seeing Jenna walking on a street, and hundreds of volunteers searched for the girl before her body was found the next day in a shallow power dam canal about 25 yards from her home.

Danish’s lawyer, James Rennicke, said the couple did not mean to hurt their young daughter but, “sometimes accidents happen.” Rennicke said he would ask that a jury from somewhere else hear his client’s trial – and he wants the couple to be tried separately.

Those issues are expected to be considered early next year. For now, the couple remains free on signature bonds. 

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