Mistrial declared for Richland nanny
BENTON COUNTY, Wash. -- After four days of deliberations, a jury could not come to a unanimous decision in the manslaughter case against Kelli Jacobsen. The former Richland nanny was accused of killing a child in her care back in June 2011. The trial lasted roughly two weeks and deliberations lasted four days. Our colleagues at the Tri-City Herald report the jury made a few requests during deliberations. The paper says these included a replay of the 911 call Jacobsen made when Ryder Morrison fell ill at home. The Tri-City Herald also reports the jury requested to read the transcript of testimony given by forensic pathologist, Dr. Daniel Selove. This request was denied. Finally, the paper reports the jury asked a question to the judge on Thursday and was told they had to work off their memory and notes while trying to come to a unanimous decision.
Ryder Morrison died a day after his first birthday of massive bleeding on the brain. Months after his death, an autopsy report revealed a history of abuse. Morrison had various bone fractures that were in the process of healing. He also had evidence of deep tissue injuries that showed a history of abuse. Prosecutors used much of this evidence hoping to show the jury there was a pattern of abuse at the hands of Morrison's live-in nanny, Jacobsen.
The case took almost two years to go to trial. Jacobsen's defense team had received a number of delays in the case citing time needed to get reports from expert witnesses. It was expected those reports would refute the history of abuse and may corroborate Jacobsen's claims that Morrison fell from a distance of roughly six inches in the moments before she called 911. Those reports were never presented in court and Jacobsen never took the stand in her own defense.
Morrison's mother, Tawney Johnson, was called as a witness for both the prosecution and the defense. The defense hoped to show Johnson was reckless with her son, including putting him on kitchen counters while she stepped away and staying out late the night before he was killed. Jacobsen's defense attorney pointed to text messages exchanged between Jacobsen and Johnson in the days leading up to Morrison's death, including one where Johnson asked her nanny if she thought she was a "bad mom."
Jacobsen's defense attorney floated the idea at the start of the trial that Johnson may be responsible for her own son's death due to her reckless behavior. He hoped to prove the fatal injury sustained by the boy could have happened hours before he actually passed away. Numerous prosecution witnesses refuted these claims and maintained their belief that Morrison's injuries happened in the minutes before he was rushed to Kadlec's emergency room where he died during surgery.
Attorney for Jacoben, Scott Johnson told KEPR that no plea deal was ever offered and he never asked for one. Jacobsen has always maintained her innocence.
He has confirmed that he will represent Jacobsen if this goes back to court.
Prosecutor Andy Miller immediately indicated he wished to retry the case. A date is being set.