A Richland nanny is accused of inflicting blunt force head trauma to a 2-year-old boy, causing his death last summer.
Jocelyn M. Bellon, 29, has been ordered to appear later this week in Benton County Superior Court on one count of first-degree manslaughter.
The charge includes aggravators of victim vulnerability and that the death had a destructive and foreseeable impact on others.
Bellon was the nanny for David T. Schreiber and his 3-month-old brother.
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David died July 19 at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, one day after Richland paramedics found him unconscious and unresponsive with vomit around his mouth at the family’s home.
Bellon said David was at the kitchen table eating lunch, while she was with the infant in the adjacent living room. She then heard David coughing and noticed that “his eyes started rolling back” as he was choking on food, according to court documents.
Bellon said she tried the Heimlich maneuver to see if she could dislodge the food, then started doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and finally ran to the bathtub to see if cold water over the top of David’s head would revive the toddler, documents said.
Dr. David Barber, an emergency room physician at Kadlec Regional Medical Center, said David came in with decreased breath sounds, no pulse, dilated eyes and no body movements. A CT scan done on David showed he had a skull fracture, which Barber said was caused by significant force, court documents said.
In Spokane, pediatric specialists found visible hemorrhages in both of David’s eyes and determined the injuries were caused by non-accidental trauma, documents said. He died a short time later.
Dr. John Howard, the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy, determined that the fatal injury “must have occurred within minutes or hours of when the ambulance arrived, because there would not be normal behavior after the infliction of the injury and David would not have eaten after the injury,” court documents said.
The toddler’s mother told investigators she left for work at noon, then got a frantic call from her nanny about 1 1/2 hours later saying the boy was choking, documents said. The mother, Jennifer Schreiber, called 911.
Bellon said David had become upset earlier when his mother left the house, so the nanny gave him hugs and breathed with him to calm him down, and then the two played in the backyard for about 10 minutes. David said he wanted to eat so she put the toddler in his booster seat, but did not buckle him in, court documents said.
She said David wasn’t eating his food, so she sat down and ate her own lunch while feeding the toddler some bites of his food. The nanny said she then got up to care for the baby, who had woken up from his nap and was now lying on the living room floor, documents said.
In a follow-up interview, Bellon initially said the toddler did not fall out of his booster chair that day. She reportedly changed her account at some point to say David fell out of his chair while she was cleaning up in his bedroom, and that she comforted him before turning her attention to his younger brother.
Howard further concluded from the autopsy that the injury was not caused by a short fall.
He said it took both a high-degree of energy and “a tremendous amount of force” to cause the toddler’s subdural hemorrhaging and massive brain swelling, court documents said. Those types of injuries together usually are seen in high falls or car crashes, the doctor said.
Jennifer and Daniel Schreiber said their son did not have a significant prior medical history.
The parents told investigators that David went to the Richland hospital’s emergency room on May 31, 2016, because they were concerned he had a concussion. David had been in the care of his nanny on that date, documents said.
Bellon is the second nanny in recent years to be charged with the death of a young Richland boy.
Kelli A. Jacobsen was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in July 2015 during her second trial. Her first trial had ended in a hung jury.
She had been the live-in nanny for Ryder Morrison, who died on the operating table in 2011 one day after his first birthday.
Jacobsen maintained her innocence throughout the case. She said Ryder may have injured himself falling from a push toy, and her lawyer suggested the boy’s brain hemorrhage was the result of abuse by another person in the 24 hours leading up to his death.
Jacobsen received a 4 1/2 -year sentence. She has been serving her time in the Yakima County jail since Nov. 10, 2015, because of overcrowding at the state’s two women’s prisons.
When her custody status came up for review this past November, Jacobsen’s request to extend her time in Yakima was granted, said Washington Department of Corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay. However, next time she is up for review later this year, she likely will be moved to the state-operated facility in either Belfair or Gig Harbor, he said.
Jacobsen’s scheduled release is September 2018 if she continues to be on good behavior.