Bond Hearing Held In Case Involving Death Of Baby At Daycare

A bond hearing was held on Monday at the Dillon County Judicial Center in the case involving the death of a baby at a local daycare.
Dillon City Police and SLED have charged Dillon resident Judy Cox with homicide by child abuse, an upgrade from the previously-charged inflicting great bodily injury upon a child.
Due to Circuit Judge Roger Henderson’s gag order issued in the case, Monday’s bond hearing for Cox on the upgraded charge was the first time the public has heard from the State, represented by Assistant Solicitor Shipp Daniel.
“The circumstances which bring us here today are tragic,” said Daniel.
Daniel said that at about 7:00 a.m. on the morning of February 12, 2019, Melissa Thompson dropped her five-month-old twin boys, Jeremiah and Zachariah, off at Generations Day Care, which was owned and operated by Cox.
At a little after 10:00 that morning, a 9-1-1 call was made from the day care in reference to baby Jeremiah, who had become unresponsive while Cox was caring for him. Cox told law enforcement she shook Jeremiah, but he did not wake up.
Jeremiah was taken to McLeod Hospital in Dillon and then to McLeod Hospital in Florence.
Due to the traumatic injuries described by each doctor who saw Jeremiah, and due to the fact that Cox said in several interviews with law enforcement that she was the only adult ever alone with the twins all morning, Cox was charged with inflicting great bodily injury upon a child. Then, after four days in NICU in Florence, Jeremiah passed away.
Daniel explained that before the decision was made to charge Cox with Jeremiah’s death, he and law enforcement wanted to be as confident as they could be with the available evidence.
So in addition to the child abuse pediatrician expert who had been consulted throughout the investigation, Daniel and law enforcement spoke several times with the pathologist who performed the autopsy.
Daniel also told the court that he sent all medical records to an independent child abuse medical expert for a second opinion.
Daniel briefly described Jeremiah’s injuries as being significant brain bleeding, internal and external bruising all about the forehead, and retinal hemorrhaging. Daniel said the cause of death listed in the autopsy report is “blunt force trauma to the head.”
“No one, including me, wants to believe that anyone, especially a 58-year-old woman who has owned a day care for 15 years, would ever be responsible for a child’s death,” continued Daniel. “So we did our due diligence prior to bringing this charge. All of the experts we consulted are of the strong belief that Jeremiah’s death was caused by child abuse and that due to the severity of the injuries and the established timeline, the injuries had to have been inflicted at the day care, not at any time prior to Jeremiah’s arrival there. Due to Mrs. Cox’s statements that she was the only adult ever alone that morning with Jeremiah, we felt there was no other choice but to charge her.”
Daniel acknowledged that the defense will hire its own experts for trial and that those experts will likely have differing opinions.
“This is a tough, tragic case, and nothing we do in this courtroom will ever undo this horrific incident,” said Daniel. “But we believe the facts lead us down one road – and that is that Judy Cox caused the death of Jeremiah Thompson. We look forward to presenting our case to a jury.”
Florence defense attorney Rose Mary Parham, who represents Cox, spoke on her client’s behalf. “We are confident in Judy Cox’s innocence,” said Parham. “We believe the evidence will show the baby was in declining health prior to that morning at the day care.”
Judge Henderson then heard from the Thompsons.
“My question is ‘why?’,” said Melissa Thompson.
“We trusted this lady with our babies while we worked our respective jobs,” said Robert Thompson, Jeremiah’s father. “No parent should feel the way I’m feeling now.”
Judge Henderson reminded everyone that in setting bond, the court may only consider whether the defendant is a flight risk or is a danger to the community.
“I’ve heard nothing to indicate Mrs. Cox is a flight risk or is a danger to the community,” said Henderson.
He also noted that since February, Cox has not had any issues while out on bond on the original charge.
“I understand how the family feels, but I am only allowed by law to consider the two factors we have discussed,” said Henderson.
Henderson then set bond at $60,000 surety.
As the defense must be given time to get its own experts to review the medical records, any potential trial date will be months away.