Criminal Justice

Appeals Court Upholds Charges Against Couple Accused in Baby's 'Co-Sleeping' Death


A Utah appeals court has refused to dismiss charges against a couple whose baby died in 2006 while sleeping in bed with them.

Trevor Merrill and Echo Nielsen are charged with child-abuse homicide and reckless endangerment, report the Salt Lake Tribune and the Associated Press. Their baby, Kayson Bradley Merrill, died in 2006.

The appeals court said there is enough evidence to support an inference that Kayson suffocated because of co-sleeping. The court also refused to bar evidence that the couple’s first baby had died while they slept with her. The state had offered the evidence to show knowledge about the risk of death.

The medical examiner had found the cause of death was “undetermined,” and noted the child also was ill and had a low birth weight. The first decision (PDF) is State v. Nielsen and the second (PDF) is State v. Merrill.

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