The Iowa Supreme Court has vacated some of the child endangerment counts a Des Moines father was convicted of in connection with severe and debilitating injuries his infant son suffered.
After an appeal by Jonas Neiderbach, the court says two of the six child endangerment charges lacked sufficient evidence. The counts pertained to rib fractures to their then six-week-old son Ethan Neiderbach that were suffered in 2009.
The child was rushed to the hospital on July 8th, 2009. Court documents show he suffered major brain trauma and several broken ribs, some that were older fractures and were healing.
The child’s mother, Jherica Richardson, accepted a plea deal in the case in exchange for her testimony during Jonas Neiderbach’s trial. She is serving a 20 year prison term in the case.
Neiderbach was found guilty on six counts of child endangerment in his 2011 trial.
Neiderbach’s appeal asked for the dismissal of some of the child endangerment charges he faced and also asked for access to Jherica Richardson’s mental health records. Request for those records during his trial were denied.
The Iowa Supreme Court has now ruled the district court should review Richardson’s mental health records to determine whether they contain exculpatory information. If such information is found, the district court will determine whether Neiderbach gets a new trial.
If the information is not located in the records, resentencing will be held for Neiderbach on the remaining four child endangerment charges.
He was originally sentenced to 50 years in prison.
Ethan Neiderbach was adopted by Jherica Richardson’s sister. He is severely disabled and unable to communicate verbally. Doctors do not expect any significant improvement in his condition.
Read the court’s entire decision here.