Nanny Kelli Jacobsen was the only one there when Ryder Morrison suffered a severe injury and later died. The family has maintained that story all along, and now prosecutors have charged Jacobsen with manslaughter in the first degree. The charge is also with aggravating circumstances because Ryder couldn't defend himself.
However, Jacobsen's attorney was quick to point out she's not to blame.
“There's no doubt something horrible happened to that baby and someone needs to be held accountable, but that person is not Miss Jacobsen,” said Jacobsen’s attorney Scott Johnson.
Ryder's mom sat in the front of the courtroom watching as her former nanny pleaded not guilty to the death of her little boy. But in a surprise to many Jacobsen was set free without bail. The reasoning was related to the judge not seeing her as a flight risk because she was part of the investigation all along, and turned herself earlier in the day.
“We agreed that she would voluntarily go to the jail and be booked, and there was an agreement that she would be released without any kind of bail and very minimal conditions,” added Johnson.
Court papers shed more light on just what happened that horrible day in June. Jacobsen told police she was in the other room when she heard a "thud." She called 911 but the child died during surgery.
An ER doctor asked Jacobsen for the real story on what happened to Ryder, but she insisted he fell on his own climbing on a toy. An autopsy and experts don't agree. They say Ryder had severe bleeding on the brain.
“Everything that we've got it in the initial report, and it developed probable cause enough to lead us to believe there's one individual responsible, and that individual came with her attorney to the Benton County Jail,” said Captain Mike Cobb of Richland Police.
Jacobsen's attorney insists she's not to blame, and was just as surprised at the news of her pending arrest.
“She had been cooperative and thought it was over and that someone may be charged but certainly not her, so she was shocked,” said Johnson
“I want to remind everyone that this individual is innocent and has not been committed of a crime,” added Cobb.
But for the family of Ryder Morrison, the process towards closure has taken its first step with the arrest of their former nanny, now accused of killing their little boy.
Ryder's family chose not to speak to the media on Thursday and has never spoken publicly about the case, outside of a statement issued shortly after the child's death. Jacobsen's trial is set for January, but she'll be back in court in a couple weeks.
***Below is the police report released on Thursday from Richland Police. ****
RICHLAND POLICE NEWS RELEASE -- On June 22, 2011 the Richland Police Department began investigating circumstances surrounding the death of 12 month old Ryder Morrison. At the time of Ryder's death Kelli Jacobsen was employed as a nanny.
Jacobsen was present on June 22 and called 911 to request an ambulance. Initial reports provided by Jacobsen to 911 personnel indicated that Ryder had fallen and hit the back of his head. Richland Fire paramedics transported Ryder to Kadlec hospital. Attending medical personnel said that the explanation of falling was not consistent with the presenting injury.
Due to bleeding in the brain, a neurosurgeon was called in to perform surgery. Ryder died as a result of his injuries.
An autopsy was performed. In addition, three other experts in the field were consulted, and provided Ryder’s medical and autopsy records. The report received from those experts found “Given his reported normal level of function reported by mother and the sitter during mother’s lunch break, his injuries almost certainly occurred after mother returned to work from that break”. The doctors also found that on the day of his death, Ryder sustained multiple bruises, severe intracranial and eye bleeding and neck muscle injury. They found that diffuse subdural bleeding such as Ryder sustained normally results from severe whiplash events that can also cause neck muscle and spinal cord bleeding. They concluded that the injuries were not consistent with the reported fall history and that the cause of death was closed head injury.
The results of the investigation have been reviewed by Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller. Mr. Miller filed an Information in Superior Court today (Thursday) charging Jacobsen with Manslaughter in the First Degree. The Information alleges that Jacobsen recklessly caused the death of Ryder Morrison by inflicting abusive head trauma. The crime was aggravated because Jacobsen knew or should have known that the victim was particularly vulnerable and incapable of resistance due to extreme youth.
Jacobsen, along with her attorney, turned herself in at the Benton County Jail. She is being held on $100,000.00 bail.
A court hearing is scheduled today (Thursday) for 1:30 PM.