Nanny's texts say she was tired, exhausted

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldMay 1, 2013 

Less than two hours before a Richland nanny called 911 to report a seriously injured toddler, she was texting and posting on Facebook that the fussy child was leaving her "tired and exhausted."

Starting at 10:30 a.m., Kelli A. Jacobsen began posting about how tired she was, adding "it's crazy."

Jacobsen is on trial in Benton County Superior Court for the death of 1-year-old Ryder Morrison, who died in surgery later that day from a head injury.

Richland Police Detective Damon Jansen testified at Jacobsen's first-degree manslaughter trial Wednesday about what he found on the live-in nanny's Facebook account on June 22, 2011.

After one of her Facebook friends commented on her posts, Jacobsen responded with this post at 11:45 a.m.:

"It's because I stay up way too late and have to get up way too early," Jacobsen wrote. "Maybe if I could balance it out and sleep in, but u don't."

A half-hour later at 12:12 p.m., she called 911 to report that Ryder was hurt. She later told a medic that he fell six inches, hitting his head, while climbing on a toy.

Also Wednesday, Detective Robert Benson, who reviews cellphones, computers and other digital devices, said his work uncovered a text message exchange from a month before Ryder's death when the boy's mom, Tawney Johnson, asked Jacobsen about a bruise on Ryder's cheek on his face.

Jacobsen texted back that the only bruise she knew of was on Ryder's nose.

That exchange could add to the prosecution's effort to show Ryder was abused even before his fatal injury.

On Tuesday, Dr. Kenneth Feldman, a pediatrician with Seattle Children's Hospital who reviewed police and medical records related to Ryder's death, said he found broken bones and bruises that likely were caused weeks before the boy died.

And Benson testified that on the night before Ryder died, his mother texted Jacobsen asking if she felt she is a bad mother.

"You know I don't think that," Jacobsen replied.

When cross-examining Benson, Jacobsen's attorney, Scott Johnson, questioned how well the computer program Benson uses to retrieve deleted text messages works.

While Benson said Richland uses the best program available, Scott Johnson pointed to several days of missing text messages on the phone of Johnson's friend John Roberts, trying to show its unreliability.

Also Wednesday, Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller showed photos to Jansen that were taken at the home where Ryder lived with his mother and Jacobsen.

The photos were taken in the hours after Ryder was rushed to the hospital. He also showed the detective several toys that were considered evidence, including a push toy lawnmower and tool sets.

Scott Johnson attempted to make Jansen's police work look shoddy. He questioned why the detective didn't submit evidence to a crime lab for DNA testing that included baby wipes and clothing that Scott Johnson said might have been stained with blood.

Jansen said testing those items wouldn't have made a difference in Ryder's case.

"The labs are very, very backed up, so we don't want to send them thousands of items for one single case," the detective said.

Scott Johnson then showed Jansen a photo with at least six stains on the kitchen counter of the duplex where Ryder lived in the 1300 block of Williams Boulevard in Richland.

"In this case, you wouldn't have had to have sent thousands of swabs, it would have been six," Scott Johnson told Jansen. "You didn't do it."

After Superior Court Judge Vic VanderSchoor released jurors for the day, he ruled that Miller's office will have to limit how much of the more than 1,000 pages of evidence it will use to discredit the defense's medical expert, Dr. John Plunkett of Minneapolis. He gave prosecutors until noon today to decide what parts of the evidence it plans to actually use.

"It seems to me that we ought to limit it to at least a couple hundred (pages)," VanderSchoor said.

Scott Johnson said he received a box of the prosecution's evidence on Plunkett on Tuesday morning, not giving him time to review it. Had the judge not limited the evidence, Scott Johnson said the only other alternative would have been delaying the trial.

Miller made clear he believes the evidence won't make the doctor look good.

"Dr. Plunkett has been discredited so many times in so many courts across the country," Miller told the judge.

Scott Johnson said Miller's thoughts on Plunkett were not relevant.

"I don't think much of Dr. Feldman, but that's not the issue," he said, referring to the doctor who testified Tuesday that a massive head injury caused Ryder's death at a time when only Jacobsen was home. "The issue is the box. ... I can't get through it."

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com

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