A Newbold man whose wife is facing a first-degree reckless homicide charge in connection with the death of his 20-month-old son has been charged with intentionally neglecting a child and physical abuse/failure to prevent bodily harm to a child.
According to a press release from the Oneida County sheriff's office, Dr. Trung T. Tran was arrested Tuesday in connection with the April 15 death of his son Avery J. Edwards.
Tran made his initial court appearance before Branch II judge Michael Bloom Wednesday afternoon via video from the Oneida County Jail with attorney Mike Guerin.
Oneida County district attorney Mike Schiek argued for a $20,000 cash bond but Judge Mike Bloom opted to set bond at $10,000 cash.
A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Oct. 24.
Tran's wife, Ellen Tran, 28, was charged with second-degree reckless homicide April 18 after Edwards, who was her stepson, died early April 15 at a Marshfield hospital. Oneida County district attorney Mike Schiek later increased the charge to first-degree reckless homicide.
Ellen Tran was bound over for trial May 25, following a preliminary hearing featuring testimony from Oneida County investigators.
Oneida County deputies and first responders were dispatched to the Tran home the evening of April 14 after receiving a 9-1-1 call reporting Edwards was unresponsive and had stopped breathing. According to the original detective's report, Edwards was transported by ambulance to Ministry St. Mary's Hospital in Rhinelander and then flown to St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield where he passed away just after midnight on April 15.
According to testimony by Oneida County detective sergeant Chad Wanta, a deputy on the scene at the Tran house "expressed concerns" about what had happened to the child based on her observations and what Ellen Tran told her.
"Particularly, Sgt. (Kelly) Moermond stated she believed something had happened with the victim in the bathtub because there was water in the bathtub and there was a wet towel draped over the side of the bathtub," Wanta testified.
Wanta also testified that he overheard one of the EMTs say that there was water in the victim's body while they were performing CPR. He also said he observed bruises on the boy's upper right forehead.
When first questioned, Tran told Wanta she was putting lotion on the child following a shower when his breathing became labored. At the preliminary hearing, Wanta said Tran told him that after the initial labored breathing Edwards took a few little breaths and then appeared OK. "She stated that then Avery 'crashed,' that was her word," he testified. "When I asked her to explain that, she said he started rapidly deteriorating and he had a gaze in his eyes when he was looking up into space and his body went limp."
After conducting an autopsy, Fond du Lac County medical examiner Doug Kelley listed the boy's cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head.
In his testimony at Mrs. Tran's preliminary hearing, Kelley reviewed the areas of the child's body where he found either bruises or contusions. In addition to the boy's head, he said there was bruising on the child's back, buttocks, knees, forearms and chest. He also testified that the child had no head or rib fractures or signs of healed old fractures.
Kelley also testified the injuries were inconsistent with Mrs. Tran's claim that the child fell in the shower.
A pretrial conference in Mrs. Tran's case is set for 11 a.m. Oct. 17. A not guilty plea has been entered on her behalf.
In the complaint filed against Dr. Trung Tran, the state argues the doctor knew his wife was extremely hostile toward his son and that she was abusing substances. The state argues the doctor knew that leaving his son with Ellen Tran was a risk to his welfare and chose to do so anyway, although he had other options.
"Trung was the only person that could protect (Avery) from Ellen and was responsible for (Avery's) safety. Had Trung not left (Avery) in Ellen's care, (Avery) may still be alive," the complaint states.
Ellen Tran is also facing a felony a bail jumping charge after she allegedly had contact with her toddler daughter, who is in the case of a foster parent, during the Rhinelander Fourth of July parade. That case is tracking along with the reckless homicide case.
A complete report on Wednesday's hearing will be published in the Saturday River News.
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