Court Rejects Two Counts in Child Endangerment Case

KCCI.com

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Supreme Court Friday threw out two of the six counts that a Des Moines father was convicted of in the serious abuse of his infant son, and left open the possibility of a new trial.

The ruling vacates two counts that Jonas Neiderbach was convicted of in the injuries to his 7-week-old son, Ethan Neiderbach. The boy was injured in June of 2009.

The Supreme Court ruled that two counts for the baby's broken ribs should be thrown out for insufficient evidence. The other four counts were upheld but returned to the district court for review.

Jonas Neiderbach was sentenced to 50 years in prison after being found guilty of six counts of child endangerment.

The boy's mother, Jherica Richardson, pleaded guilty to child endangerment and is serving a 20-year prison sentence. She testified against Neiderbach during his trial.

The Supreme Court also ruled that the district court judge erred in not reviewing the mental health records of Jherica Richardson. According to the ruling, "Jherica was a co defendant charged with endangering the same victim, E.N. Her credibility was a central issue in the case. Her testimony put E.N. in Jonas's arms when the baby stopped breathing."

The court continued, "Significantly, she behaved strangely in jail, by stating she should be in a 'psych ward,' baring her breasts, and falsely saying her son was dead while asking, without emotion, about burial costs."

"Jonas's defense strategy included raising reasonable doubt about whether certain injuries may have been inflicted by Jherica instead of him."

The Supreme Court ordered the district court to review Richardson's mental health records and determine whether there is any evidence that Neiderbach is entitled to a new trial.

Neiderbach's attorney Gary Dickey talked to KCCI on Friday about the decision. He said Jherica's mental health records could provide important information in the case.

"Best case, we'll find an admission of guilt," said Dickey. "Short of that, evidence that goes to her credibility or involvement in the alleged crimes."
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