SALT LAKE CITY — A 17-year-old babysitter charged in the May death of an infant will be released from a youth detention center and will stay with his mother, who promised a judge Thursday she will install special locks and a security system to ensure he does not sneak out.
Third District Juvenile Julie Lund ordered the teenager, whom the Deseret News has opted not to name at this time, to wear an ankle monitor while on home detention ahead of his four-day trial in December. She also ordered an evaluation of the boy’s mental health during the pretrial hearing.
Parents of the 5-month-old, Adalyn Monson, and prosecutor Steven Grayson argued he is a flight risk. They urged Lund not to release him.
“I do have a concern if something were to happen and he were to leave, run and take out the ankle bracelet as well,” said the baby’s father, Jonathan Monson. The teen is accused of tossing the baby into the air repeatedly before she stopped breathing in West Valley City in May.
While the allegations he faces are serious and he initially had reported thinking about taking his own life when he was first detained, Lund said, he has already been held for more than four months.
Lund explained to boy Thursday why she kept him detained since he was charged. “I wanted to keep you safe and I wanted to keep you around. That’s still my concern. However I do believe that with systems of care in place, that perhaps we could let you out.”
She referenced a plan social workers have created to address the teen’s behavioral and emotional needs while he is home, though she also acknowledged youth defendants sometimes cut off the ankle monitors.
The teen’s attorney, Sam Pappas, said his client has received “glowing reports with regard to his conduct” while in detention and his therapists no longer have concerns about suicidal ideation. Pappas said he is awaiting a report on the child’s death from the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office.
His client spoke little during the hearing, at times replying, “Yes, ma’am,” when the judge addressed him.
On May 10, Adalyn was taken off of life support after she was critically injured three days earlier. When her parents picked her up from the sitter’s West Valley house on May 7, the teen, a distant family member, was holding the unresponsive child, according to charging documents. An autopsy revealed the baby died of severe brain trauma and had a bruise on her head.
The teen told officers he had tossed the girl into the air — something he did “all the time over and over again” — before she lost consciousness in part because she was crying and would not take a bottle, prosecutors allege. He watched the child as community service, he told police, part of his sentence in a prior drug possession case.
His mother declined comment outside the courtroom.
Jonathan Monson said that when a neighbor’s baby cries in the night, he and Adalyn’s mother sometimes wake up thinking it’s their daughter. Monson said the juvenile court system, focused on rehabilitation for youth offenders, seems to consider the teen’s needs and family more than his own.
“In this case, we haven’t really been considered, of what we’re going through, how we’re handling it, how we’re trying to handle it,” he said. “There’s no way to go back and change the past to reverse what has already happened.”
The teen is expected to be released by Monday. His trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 9.