UPDATE: Watertown woman pleads not guilty to Second Degree Murder in death of 16 month-old boy; posts bond

September 29, 2021
Mike Tanner

WATERTOWN, S.D.–A Watertown day care provider charged with Second Degree Murder in the death of a 16 month-old boy entered a not guilty plea today.

Thirty one year-old Amanda Walder (pictured) is alleged to have caused the death of Liam Koistinen while he was at Walder’s in-home day care on July 14th. Paramedics were called to the 200-block of 15th Street Northwest that afternoon on a report of an unconcious child.

Koistinen died of a brain bleed that night at Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls.

Walder was initially charged with Abuse or Cruelty to a Minor, but the more serious charges of Second Degree Murder and First Degree Manslaughter were handed down in a Codington County Grand Jury indictment.

Appearing at her arraignment today, Walder was handcuffed and wearing blue, jail-issued clothing as she was flanked by her two defense attorneys. She sobbed at times as Brookings-based lawyer, Don McCarty, argued for a reduced bond on her behalf.

McCarty told Judge Carmen Means that Walder has strong family ties to the area, and has no criminal history or mental health issues. In short, McCarty told the judge that Walder’s character, “is not in question.”

McCarty went on to describe Walder’s family as, “blue collar,” and, “not flush with cash.” As to the question of whether Walder would be a flight risk if she posted bond, McCarty stated, “where would she go?”

Prosecuting attorney Kelly Marnette did not oppose McCarty’s request for a reduced bond, but asked that it include a condition that Walder not have contact with children. 

Judge Means reduced bond to $50,000 cash. Conditions include Walder having no contact with kids under the age of 18, although that excludes her own two children.

Codington County Sheriff Brad Howell tells KWAT News Walder bonded out of jail just hours after today’s court appearance. 

A status hearing on the case for November 10th at 9:00 a.m.

And in a preview of what to expect when the case goes to trial, McCarty told the court it will be a, “scientific case with voluminous amounts of evidence.”