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July 19, 2019

5/28/2019 7:30:00 AM
Tran requests more time to obtain lawyer to handle appeal
Jamie Taylor and Heather Schaefer
of the River News

A former Newbold resident convicted of reckless homicide in the death of her toddler stepson has filed a motion asking the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Wausau for more time to obtain an attorney to represent her as she seeks post-conviction relief.

In a motion filed May 22, Ellen Tran notes she did not return an Eligibility Evaluation Form to the State Public Defender's office within the required time limit because "additional financial information was requested of me 1 day before the SPD's appointment time limit expired."

Tran, 30, filed a notice of intent to pursue post-conviction relief Dec. 27, 2018, 16 days after Oneida County Circuit Judge Patrick O'Melia sentenced her to 15 years in prison and seven years extended supervision on the reckless homicide charge.

On Oct. 25, 2018, following four days of testimony, a jury convicted Tran of causing the death of Avery Edwards, the son of her then-husband Dr. Trung Tran, in April 2017.

Edwards, 20 months, was supposed to spend 30 days in Rhinelander on a court-ordered visitation but his stay lasted only two weeks, until the evening of April 14, 2017 when the Oneida County Dispatch Center received a hang-up phone call from the Tran home.

According to the criminal complaint and trial testimony, when a dispatcher called back, Ellen Tran reported that Edwards was unresponsive and had stopped breathing after taking a shower.

The toddler died several hours later at a hospital in Marshfield.

At trial, former Fond Du Lac County medical examiner Doug Kelley testified the boy died as the result of a diffuse axonal injury - a traumatic brain event.

The sentence handed down by Judge Patrick O'Melia was lower than the 18 to 20 years of incarceration recommended by the Department of Corrections in a pre-sentence report and the 20 to 25 years incarceration district attorney Mike Schiek recommended in a statement to the court.

The maximum prison sentence that could have been imposed is 40 years incarceration.

On Dec. 27, Tran took the first step toward a potential appeal when she filed a notice of intent to seek post-conviction relief. The notice also included a request for the State Public Defender Appellate Division to appoint an attorney for her.

However, as of late May, a lawyer has yet to be appointed.

According to a May 8 letter from the State Public Defender's Office, that's because Tran has yet to establish that she is "financially eligible for an SPD-appointed lawyer."

Tran is now seeking an extension so her eligibility can be determined. If the SPD determines Tran to be ineligible for an appointed attorney, she could hire a private attorney, represent herself, or ask O'Melia to review the State Public Defender's Office determination that she is not eligible for an SPD-appointed lawyer.

Defendants seeking post-conviction relief can ask to withdraw a guilty plea, request a modification of sentence or argue for a new trial based on new information or ineffective assistance of counsel, among other things.

Dr. Tran is also facing charges in connection with Avery's death.

He is accused of failure to act to prevent bodily harm to a child, a class H felony, and child neglect resulting in death, a class D felony.

A trial in his case is scheduled for early September with a final pretrial conference on Aug. 2

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