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Mother in poisoning case out of jail

At left, Julie Cirella, 8, in an undated

At left, Julie Cirella, 8, in an undated photo. At right, where Julie was found dead at a house in Plainview. (July 23, 2011) Photo Credit: Handout / Peter Walden Sr.

A Plainview woman who prosecutors said poisoned her disabled 8-year-old daughter by giving the girl food she was allergic to was released from jail without bail Wednesday after prosecutors did not indict her within the legal time limit.

Veronica Cirella's lawyer, William Keahon, made a legal demand last week for what's known as a felony exam, giving prosecutors six days to either present their evidence against her to a judge, or indict her.

Prosecutors did neither, because they are "awaiting the medical examiner's ongoing investigation," said Chris Munzing, a spokesman for Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice. Munzing would not comment further. If prosecutors get a grand jury indictment against Cirella in the future, they will likely ask a judge to put her back in jail pending a trial.

Keahon, of Hauppauge, said Julie Cirella's autopsy was inconclusive, and prosecutors await further toxicology reports on the girl. Unless those reports show evidence of foul play, prosecutors will not have enough proof to indict her mother, Keahon said, commending prosecutors for what he said was their cautious approach to the case.

The felony count against Cirella, second-degree manslaughter, charges that she failed to take the medical steps necessary to save her daughter.

Keahon said he fully expected his client to be vindicated.

"She was loving, caring, and dedicated her life to this beautiful child," Keahon said.

Julie Cirella was preparing to be a flower girl in her cousin's July 23 wedding, but was instead found dead inside the family home hours before the ceremony. Her mother was lying nearby with a cord around her neck.

Prosecutors said they found a note at Cirella's home with "language that asserts an intention to kill." But Keahon said the note was not a confession, but a rant following the "trauma of finding her child dead. "The mother was taking responsibility, and blaming herself in some fashion for not being able to save her child's life."

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