FARMINGTON — A man accused of killing a Layton toddler and the toddler's mother accused of lying for him made their first appearances in court Monday to face the criminal charges against them.
Joshua Schoenenberger, 34, stood before the judge with his hands shackled and his hair carefully parted during the hearing. The Layton man is charged with aggravated murder, a capital offense, and child abuse intentionally inflicting serious injury, a second-degree felony.
Schoenenberger could potentially face the death penalty, 2nd District Judge John Morris noted, and will be assigned an attorney qualified to handle such cases. Morris ordered him to continue to be held without bail at the Davis County Jail. He will appear in court again on June 22.
In the courtroom, family members of 2-year-old James "JJ" Sieger showed both grief and anger as Schoenenberger stood before the judge.
"That's the last thing my nephew saw before he was murdered," Nicole Sieger, JJ's aunt, said through tears when the hearing concluded. "It's just not right."
Schoenenberger allegedly became frustrated on May 9 as JJ, who was potty training, soiled his diaper. Police say in response, Schoenenberger told officers he smeared feces in the boy's face, then took him to a bathroom to wash off. As he held JJ out at eye level, the boy suddenly urinated and defecated, and Schoenenberger squeezed him before dropping him onto the tile floor and stepping on him, police and charging documents state.
JJ's mother, Jasmine Bridgeman, 23, is charged with obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony, in the boy's death. Relatives of JJ's father said they believe Bridgeman should face more serious charges.
"All of the family holds her equally responsible because we know her and we know what she's capable of," Sieger said. "The obstruction of justice (charge) is not sufficient. She participated in his murder."
Bridgeman reportedly gave police conflicting information over several days as she was interviewed, later saying that Schoenenberger had told her to lie about what had happened as they drove the toddler to the hospital, according to the charges.
The couple told doctors at Davis Hospital and Medical Center that they found JJ face down in the bathtub after being left unattended, but doctors found no evidence of fluid in the boy's lungs, charging documents state.
Prosecutors on Monday asked that Bridgeman's bail, which is currently set at $20,000 cash, be revoked or increased, as the woman has no ties to Utah and could possibly flee to Georgia. Morris denied the request.
An attorney speaking for Bridgeman says she has no intention of bailing out of jail.