A Drew County jury, composed primarily of women, heard opening statements and the state’s first three witnesses in the trial of a Drew County man charged with first-degree murder and alternative first-degree battery in the death of his 8-week-old infant.
The state contends that Jackey Bostain caused his son’s death while Bostain’s defense attorney Sara Hartness contends that the child’s mother injured the baby.
Ridley Bostain died of a closed head injury and had several fractured bones, according to an autopsy report.
In his opening statement, 10th Judicial District Chief Deputy Prosecutor Frank Spain said Jessica Morris’ father noticed on February 1, 2011 that his grandson Ridley’s eyes were strangely fixated.
The infant was taken to the doctor the following day and later transferred to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Doctors first suspected the baby had meningitis but later determined it was a virus and gave him antibiotics. His fever subsided and he was discharged on February 6.
The following day, Ridley began running a fever and his mother drove to Walmart to purchase Tylenol, leaving the baby in her husband, Jackey’s care. When she returned, the baby was not responsive.
The baby was transported by ambulance to Drew Memorial Hospital then transferred by helicopter to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, where he remained until his death on February 16, 2011.
Hartness, however, contends that Morris, who suffers from an anxiety condition, accidentally harmed the child and left the house. She said Bostain had lost his job on January 18 because Jessica repeatedly called him home from work to help her with the baby.
In her opening statement, Hartness said when the baby returned home on February 6 from his first hospitalization, Morris wanted to go to Walmart but Bostian didn’t want to go because Ridley had just been released from the hospital. Morris went without him, sending her mother text messages saying how angry she was.
The following evening, after Morris returned home from class and dinner with a friend, Bostian, who had a cold, took Nyquil and went to bed. At 4 a.m., she said Morris told Bostain she was going to Walmart and left him with an inconsolable baby. He tried to console the baby, Hartness said, but nothing worked. When Bostian attempted to change his diaper, the baby had a seizure.
Because Morris had taken Bostain’s phone with her, he could not call for help until she returned. Hartness maintains that Morris had injured the infant and left, leaving Bostain with the infant.
Morris, the state’s first witness, testified that Bostain told her at the hospital that Ridley had fallen off the sofa prior to his first hospital admittance. She said after he told her that, they drove to her parents’ hotel room where her parents where staying while Ridley was in the hospital, and Morris’ mother tape-recorded Bostain making the statement.
While cross-examining Morris’ mother, the state’s third witness, Hartness asked her why she recorded the conversation with Jackey.
“Well, when (Bostain) came up to the side of the vehicle and I rolled the window down he said ‘I have something to tell you.’ I said OK and he said, ‘The night before Ridley got sick (which would have been February 1) I let him fall off the couch,'” she said. “Well, here’s another story.”
Hartness then asked her if she considered Ridley to be sick on February 1.
“He did not feel well,” she said.
She said when she picked up Ridley’s legs that evening to change him “he screamed and cried like I had never heard him. I didn’t know that I had picked up a broken foot until we learned about the broken bones.”
Hartness then asked her when she heard Ridley “scream and cry like you had never heard him” if she suggested that Jessica and Jackey take him to the hospital.
“No ma’am,” she said.
“Why not,” Spain asked her.
“Because I thought he was getting older and was just using his lungs a little better,” she said.
The trial resumes Wednesday at 9 a.m.