Merrill parents facing felony neglect charges in death of 15-month-old child
By Jalen Maki [Tomahawk Leader Editor]
AND TINA L. SCOTT [MERRILL FOTO NEWS EDITOR]
On Wednesday, May 19, 2021, a Lincoln County Judge issued warrants for the arrest of Cody Gene Robertson, age 25, and Amber Paige Boyd, age 22, both of Merrill. Each is charged with Child Neglect, causing Death, as the result of a six-month investigation into the death of their 15-month-old son, which was reported on November 12, 2020, when emergency personnel responded to a 911 call at a home on Hwy. 64 in the Town of Corning.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department took Robertson into custody Wednesday morning at a location in the City of Merrill. but were not immediately able to locate Boyd and put out a press release and announcement on social media that they were actively seeking information on her whereabouts. Late that afternoon, Boyd was taken into custody after a traffic stop in the City of Merrill.
The Criminal Complaint filed by the Lincoln County District Attorney charging the two with “Child Neglect, causing Death,” alleges that Boyd and Robertson, through their actions, “for reasons other than poverty, did negligently fail to provide necessary care, medical care, food, or protection from exposure to drug abuse so as to seriously endanger the physical, mental, or emotional health of the child, and the child suffered death as a consequence.” The charge is a Class D Felony and, if convicted, Boyd and Robertson each face a penalty of up to 25 years in prison, a $100,000 fine, or both.
The charges stem from an incident that occurred last fall. The criminal complaint details the circumstances of the investigation that led to the charges.
According to the complaint, the Lincoln County 911 Dispatch Center received a 911 call from Boyd at 1:22 p.m. on Nov. 12, 2020. During the call, Boyd allegedly said “my baby isn’t breathing,” the complaint stated.
Prior to calling 911, Boyd allegedly called a party whose name had been redacted from the complaint. The party told Boyd to call 911.
Boyd allegedly told the dispatcher that she had found the child on the floor near the bathroom “like 5 minutes maybe” before calling 911, and that it “couldn’t have been more than 2 minutes” before she called the party whose name had been redacted.
Law enforcement arrived on the scene on State Highway 64 in Lincoln County at 1:37 p.m., followed by emergency medical services at 1:40 p.m., and a Sergeant Investigator at 1:51 p.m.
According to the complaint, “numerous bruises” to the child’s face, head, neck, arms, and legs were allegedly observed, as well as a “tan to yellow flakey dried substance” on the child’s neck.
A paramedic allegedly observed “a powdery substance like a makeup concealer” on the child that transferred to the paramedic’s blue gloves. “Makeup or covering” was also allegedly observed around scabs on the child’s neck or chin area and near the middle of the child’s eyebrows, and “makeup, foundation, or concealer in a light coating” were allegedly observed on the child’s face, top of head, and hair.
The child, who was approximately 15 months old, was pronounced dead at Ascension Good Samaritan Health Center in Merrill by Lincoln County Coroner Paul Proulx after arriving by ambulance.
The complaint quotes a November 13, 2020, autopsy report of the baby that found “acute bronchiolitis and bronchopneumonia, multiple foci, in battered child” as the first finding and “child abuse, physical” as its second. [Bronchiolitis is a common lung infection in young children and infants, and bronchopneumonia, also known as bronchial pneumonia, constricts airways due to inflammation. Multiple foci indicates presence of the condition in more than one area.]
The physical child abuse finding was noted as based, in part, on “history of prior abuse” and “extensive cutaneous trauma, non-lethal” but was substantiated by finding multiple “lesions” [tissue damage such as a wound] on the child’s head and body and “at least 20-25 acutely hemorrhagic small contusive lesions, consistent with fingers or something of similar size” [bruising] on the child’s scalp. The autopsy found wounds or lesions numbering “approximately 70-80 overall” that were evidenced on the child’s head, face, arms, legs, chest, and back that, based on the number and location of the injuries, many of which were “inconsistent with being self-sustained.”
Lincoln County Department of Social Services made a home visit to the residence on November 11, 2020, the day before the baby’s death. The home visit report indicates the child was dressed in a collared long sleeve shirt and long pants but noted the baby had one bruise on each cheek, one scratch on the right side of the back of the head, and a scratch on the right hand.
The baby’s weight at autopsy was 17 pounds, as compared to a recorded weight of 19 pounds 2.5 ounces at his last known visit to a doctor on May 18, 2020, nearly six months prior, according to the complaint. The child’s weight at death fell below the third percentile for the child’s age.
Methamphetamine was found in the child’s blood, according to toxicology results from blood drawn from the child at Good Samaritan. The child’s siblings were examined on Nov. 13, 2020, and their urine samples also revealed the presence of methamphetamine.
“A plate with methamphetamine on it was located on a dresser in the bedroom closet of the bedroom used by Amber Boyd, Cody Robertson, and their three children,” the complaint stated. “Numerous items of drug paraphernalia, marijuana, LSD, additional methamphetamine, and a digital scale were located in the drawers of the dresser.”
The complaint also reads: “Amber admitted that she snorted a line of methamphetamine off of a plate on November 10, 2020, after Cody left work, the day before the Lincoln County Department of Social Services home visit, and that Cody left the methamphetamine on the plate for her. Amber told law enforcement officers that Cody smoked methamphetamine in the living room the morning of November 12, 2020 …”
According to the complaint, Facebook records allegedly show that Boyd and Robertson were making arrangements to obtain marijuana, and that Robertson was arranging to obtain one ounce of methamphetamine. Robertson’s cell phone records also allegedly show that he was making arrangements to buy and sell both marijuana and methamphetamine “while he resided with (Boyd) and their three children.”
Robertson appeared in court on Wednesday, May 19, where a $50,000 half-cash, half-signature bond was set. Robertson cannot have contact with Boyd or minor children, must maintain absolute sobriety, and cannot leave the state of Wisconsin. He is scheduled to appear in court on July 13 for a status conference.
Boyd appeared in court the following day and received bond conditions similar to Robertson’s. In addition, she must also attend and/or schedule any and all pre-natal and or medical appointments with a specific health care provider, according to court documents. She is scheduled to appear in court on July 13 for a status conference.
As in any criminal proceeding in the United States, Boyd and Robertson are presumed innocent until proven guilty.