Richland toddler death trial delayed

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldDecember 18, 2013 

The new trial for Kelli A. Jacobsen in the June 2011 death of a Richland toddler has been moved to May -- one year after a jury deadlocked on the case.

Defense attorney Scott Johnson asked Wednesday for the four-month delay in the Benton County Superior Court case.

His client, who was at the brief hearing, agreed to setting the re-trial for May 5. She is charged with first-degree manslaughter with aggravating circumstances.

Prosecutor Andy Miller wasn't in court to discuss new dates. Deputy Prosecutor Laurel Whittier said her boss "has multiple other cases pending right now" and she wasn't in a position to speak about his calendar.

Johnson had arguments on another case in a separate courtroom and couldn't wait to see if Miller has an issue with the May setting. He said he would be OK with Miller requesting a hearing if the date doesn't work for the prosecutor's office.

"I recognize both Mr. Johnson and Mr. Miller are busy attorneys," Judge Vic VanderSchoor said. "Sometimes it's hard to get them both together with me."

Jacobsen was the live-in nanny for Ryder Morrison, who died on the operating table a day after celebrating his first birthday.

Doctors said his death was from abusive head trauma, which happened minutes or possibly up to 24 hours before he was rushed to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland.

Jacobsen was home with Ryder on June 22, 2011. She called 911 reporting that Ryder was unconscious and his eyes were rolling back into his head.

Prosecutors claim Jacobsen was exhausted after staying up late to watch movies with her friend, and took things out on the teething and fussy Ryder.

The defense has tried to point the finger at Ryder's mother, Tawney Johnson, claiming maybe she did something to him while the two were home alone the evening of his birthday.

After listening to two weeks of testimony, Benton County jurors deliberated for four days before announcing they couldn't agree on who did it. VanderSchoor then declared a mistrial on May 10.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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