Bail set for man accused in infant death

Rice

A judge has set bail for a Warrick County man who has been held without bail while awaiting trial for charges relating to the death of an infant.

Thaddious Rice, 24 of Newburgh, was arrested in September 2017 after an investigation into the death of an infant led to charges of murder and neglect of a dependent resulting in death.

Since his arrest, Rice has been held without bond, but an order from Warrick County Circuit Court Judge Greg Granger has now granted Rice bond. The order sets a bail amount of $10 million or $1 million cash and adds the requirement that, should Rice make bail, he be on home detention and GPS tracking without the option to leave the state.

"Taking into consideration the Defendant's character, reputation and habits, the Court finds that the Defendant poses a risk to the physical safety of the community," the order states.

In a hearing on Wednesday, July 17, Warrick County Prosecutor Mike Perry told the court that Rice is also facing two felony charges involving rape and sexual misconduct in Vanderburgh County that were made near the time of the incident, which ultimately led to his arrest. In addition, Perry discussed the fact that Rice is also facing new charges as of Monday, July 1, including felony battery on an endangered adult and interference with the reporting of a crime.

"The State's position is that this defendant poses a threat to the community if he's released," Perry said.

According to a probable cause affidavit in the newly opened case, Rice was seen on security footage reacting violently to another individual in

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the Warrick County Jail. The affidavit states that the individual went into his cell and shut the door to prevent Rice from getting to him, but Rice pressed a button to call for the door to be opened and continued to pursue the other man in his cell off camera.

Later, the affidavit states the other individual attempted to call for help, but Rice blocked him and dragged him off camera again before the two were separated.

Rice's attorney, Andrew Pittman told the court that the new charges shouldn't have any impact on the request for bail and said he would likely be released in the cases he is facing in Vanderburgh County. In addition, Pittman said he believes it is likely that Rice will beat this case in trial.

"It's our opinion that Thaddious has a very good chance at his trial," he said in the hearing.

Ultimately, Granger took the matter under advisement, but issued the order to set bail on Thursday, July 25. The action to set bail comes nearly two years after Rice's original arrest and even longer from the original incident that took place on April 10, 2017, when Rice allegedly took 10 ½ month-old Jaxson Wheeler to the emergency room with a head injury.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Rice's arrest, the infant was unconscious, did not have a pulse and was not breathing upon arrival to the emergency room.

The infant died two days later. The affidavit stated that Rice was not the biological father of the infant, but was helping his girlfriend take care of the baby.

According to the affidavit, authorities began to investigate the death when Rice changed his story several times about the events leading up to the infant's injury. The affidavit states that when first interviewed by a detective, Rice said he "fell down the stairs at his apartment in Newburgh while holding the infant in a car seat."

However, according to the affidavit, Rice later told a detective he had lied about the incident originally and that the infant received the injury because Rice had left the infant in a car seat on top of the staircase bannister and somehow fell down to the lower level. Rice also told investigators that he then tripped over a diaper bag and also fell down the stairs and lost consciousness.

The affidavit states that Rice also made inconsistent statements about the location of the diaper bag and statements from Wheeler's babysitter led officers to believe he had injuries prior to the alleged incident that may have resulted in the baby's death.

Later, an autopsy showed injuries consistent with the babysitter's report and a report from the autopsy stated, "neuropathologic findings and investigative findings are consistent with a pattern of child abuse" and that "a simple fall down a flight of steps in a relative protective environment of a car seat is not an adequate explanation of the sustained injuries."

A report from a doctor with the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis confirmed the findings that the injuries were characteristic of child abuse.

Now, the parties in the case are continuing to prepare for Rice's trial, which is set to begin on Wednesday, Nov. 6.

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