|Charges have been dismissed against Eric J. Hicks|
Charges of second-degree murder have now been filed against a Joplin man for the October death of a toddler he left alone while he went to receive treatment at a methandone clinic.
Charges of endangering the welfare of a child were dropped against 29 year-old Eric J. Hicks yesterday when prosecutors asked for a continuance in the case.
|Emjay and Nicole (family photo)|
Authorities were called to 1322 S. Pennsylvania Ave. on the evening of October 27th after Nichole Hall, 32, threatened to kill herself and everyone in the house, according to sources close to the case. Hall was taken to a hospital that evening.
On October 29th, Hall's boyfriend, Hicks called authorities about 10:45 a.m. after he returned from the methadone clinic and found 18 month-old Emjay Braxton Corn dead in his crib. He told authorities he had been gone approximately one hour.
According to the probable cause statement, Emjay was full clothed and had bruises on his face. Hicks told investigators that he had "sole care, custody and control of the infant since October 27th when Nichole Hall (Emjay's mother) was taken for a mental evaluation."
Authorities ruled the cause of little Emjay's death was blunt force trauma to the head in November.
According to the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy, "After the injury the child would have been in a comatose state with death occurring shortly thereafter." Hicks is the only person who had contact with the baby from the time he was last seen alive until the baby died from blunt force trauma to the head, according to court documents.
When asked if Emjay's injuries could have been caused by Hall prior to her hospitalization, or if the boy could have been dead for several hours or up to a day before Hicks's timeline, Joplin police Lt. Brian Lewis said at the time, "We're waiting on a forensic pathologist/anthropologist to establish a timeline in the case."
Authorities were called back out to the Pennsylvania Avenue house at least twice after Hall was released from the hospital. "On November 3rd an officer was requested to call the home and on November 4th there was a follow up," said Lewis.
Hall had been re-admitted to the mental hospital in early November but has since been released, according to sources close to the couple.
In September of 2008, Kyler DeShawn Jones was beaten to death by his caregiver, Byron Lang. It took prosecutors five months to file murder charges against Lang, who entered an Alford plea last year, and was sentenced to 15 years for Kyler's murder.
Hicks is being held in jail in Joplin on $50,000 bond.