Father accused of neglecting son who died bound over for trial
Concerns expressed about boy’s well-being before his death
BY KEVIN BONESKE
A 41-year-old man, whose wife is accused of causing the death of his 20-month-old son following an incident at their town of Newbold home last April, was bound over for trial himself Friday in Oneida County Circuit Court.
Trung T. Tran appeared for a preliminary hearing with his attorney, D. Michael Guerin, who sought to dismiss the criminal complaint against his client by arguing the allegations contained in it are insufficient to show probable cause of a felony offense being committed.
However, Judge Michael H. Bloom found the complaint to be sufficient and decided not to modify a ruling he made last November when he found the complaint did support all four elements of the charge of child neglect resulting in death, which upon conviction carries a maximum possible penalty of 15 years of initial confinement in prison, followed by 10 years of extended supervision, and/or a $100,000 fine.
Trung Tran’s wife, Ellen L. Tran, 29, has been charged with first-degree reckless homicide and a separate felony bailing jumping charge in connection with the death of Trung Tran’s son and her stepson, Avery J. Edwards. The first-degree reckless homicide charge against her, for which she has pleaded not guilty, carries a maximum possible penalty upon conviction of 40 years of initial confinement in prison, followed by 20 years of extended supervision.
During Friday’s preliminary hearing, district attorney Michael W. Schiek called sheriff’s office detective sergeant Chad Wanta as the only witness to testify.
Much as Wanta’s testimony focused on text messages sent between Trung and Ellen Tran, which included statements from Ellen Tran wishing the boy had never been born and would die.
Wanta also testified about the boy’s biological mother, Lori E. Edwards, who lives in Virginia, expressing concerns about the his well-being in the care of Ellen Tran, who previously had a temporary restraining order against her to keep her from having contact with Avery Edwards, before the order was lifted and Trung Trang picked up the boy and brought him back to Wisconsin last April.
Bloom found a reasonable inference could be made from Wanta’s testimony to show probable cause of a felony offense exists related to Trung Tran intentionally contributing to the child’s neglect, in which the consequence was death, by leaving him in the care of Ellen Tran.
The circumstances surrounding Trung and Ellen Tran being charged relate to an incident called into the county’s dispatch center the evening of April 14 when it was reported a child had trouble breathing at a residence in the town of Newbold.
The child, Avery Edwards, was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital in Rhinelander, where he was then flown out to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield and passed away a short time later.
Dr. Doug Kelley of the Fond du Lac County Medical Examiner’s Office, who performed the autopsy on the boy, determined the cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the head.
Ellen Tran has been accused of giving authorities varying accounts about what happened to the boy and had been the only adult present when the alleged incident happened and she had been caring for him, as well as two other children.
After Ellen Tran stated the boy fell in the shower, she said she could not remember how the fall happened, according to a sheriff’s office report, which also noted a doctor at the Child Abuse Center at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Kristen Iniguez, contacted sheriff’s office captain Terri Hook on April 15 related to concern about the boy’s injuries not matching the information Ellen Tran provided.
Though Ellen Tran was first arrested for the boy’s death back in April, Trung Tran, who worked as a physician in Rhinelander, wasn’t arrested until September. Back in April, Trung Tran had allegedly asked if he would be arrested for failing to protect Avery Edwards and expressed concern about the boy being in Ellen Tran’s care.
Trung Tran, who remains free on a $10,000 cash bond, is scheduled back in court March 19 for an arraignment.
Ellen Tran, who is also free on bond, is scheduled back in court Feb. 16 for a status conference.