Pierce County prosecutors Wednesday charged a Tacoma woman with second-degree murder in the death of an 8-month-old baby she was caring for.
Jamie Thompson, 34, was arrested Tuesday, more than two weeks after Jayceon Thomas died. She pleaded not guilty Wednesday and was ordered jailed in lieu of $1 million bail.
Officials said the boy died of shaken-baby syndrome. He had bruises on his forehead and the back of his head and brain hemorrhaging, according to charging papers.
During Thompson’s arraignment in Superior Court, her attorney, Michael Stewart, asked that the charges be dropped.
“There is not one bit of evidence my client inflicted any injuries on that child,” Stewart said.
Court Commissioner Meagan Foley denied the request and set the bail amount requested by deputy prosecutor Stephen Penner. Stewart did not argue bail.
Thompson’s demeanor alternated from one of utter disbelief to profound sadness during the brief hearing.
The boy’s parents, Iven Thomas and Vanessa Henderson, sat quietly in court surrounded by supporters.
More than a dozen people were there to support Thompson, including Missjesse Powell, who said she was a lifelong friend. Someone yelled, “We love you, Jamie,” as corrections officers led the defendant away after the hearing.
Powell broke down in tears as she talked to reporters outside court. Thompson, she said, loves children and would never do anything to hurt one.
“She needs to be home with her children,” Powell said. “She’s innocent.”
Thomas also addressed reporters outside court. He said the defendant is a friend and that he takes no pleasure in seeing her incarcerated.
Still, he said, he believes that if Thompson didn’t kill the boy, she at least knows more than she is telling about his son’s death.
“All I know is my son’s not here,” Thomas said. “I know when I dropped my son off, he was alive. When I came and got him, he was dead.”
Thomas said he wants answers.
“I need that,” he said. “I can’t rest. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep.”
Thomas grew angry during the interview and began yelling at one of Thompson’s supporters, who was standing nearby. Friends and relatives dragged him down the hall until he calmed down.
Thomas left Jayceon in Thompson’s care for a week while he searched for a new place to live. He told police he didn’t want to cart Jayceon around in the cool weather because his son had a cold.
Thompson called Thomas on April 11 and told him to come get the baby because Jayceon had stopped breathing. Thomas picked Jayceon up and rushed him to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.
Doctors there were able to resuscitate Jayceon, but he died the next day.
Police immediately removed five other children from Thompson’s care and placed them with family members.
She initially told detectives she fed Jayceon a bottle at 3 a.m. and again at 7:15 a.m., and he seemed fine, court records show. She later changed her story and said she hadn’t fed him.
Instead, Thompson allegedly said she left a bottle in Jayceon’s crib and later found it empty.
There was less than an ounce of liquid in the baby’s stomach when he died, charging papers state.
Thompson was the only adult in the home within the 12-hour span that doctors said Jayceon was shaken and injured.
She briefly visited Jayceon the day before he died, and the father of Thompson’s two youngest children told police he stopped by two days before and argued with Thompson about her baby-sitting Jayceon.
“He felt she should be spending time with her own children,” according to court documents.
Thompson had recently been released from prison and had three of her six children living with her, police said. Family members were caring for the others.
She has prior convictions for assault, second-degree robbery, residential burglary and custodial assault, Pierce County court records show.
Thomas said he felt comfortable leaving Jayceon in her care because he’d known Thompson since high school and she had a baby the same age as Jayceon.