A preliminary hearing was held Friday morning in Bond County Circuit Court for James Andrew Hickman of Greenville, who is charged with two counts of first degree murder in the death of his two-month old son, Evander.
Judge Neil Schroeder ruled there is probable cause to continue the charges against the 27-year-old Hickman, who remains incarcerated in the Bond County jail. The state has alleged the infant’s death was caused by the defendant shaking the baby.
The only witness in the hearing was Greenville Chief of Police Johnny Runyon, who was called by the state.
Runyon said Greenville police responded to a 911 call in the early morning hours of November 16, which was placed by Hickman, stating there was a baby in distress. Greenville officers and a Bond County deputy responded and began CPR, according to the chief.
Runyon said the infant was taken to HSHS Holy Family Hospital in Greenville, then transferred to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, where he died on November 18.
The chief said Greenville Police talked to a physician at the St. Louis hospital who alleged the cause of death was internal brain injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome.
During Friday’s hearing, State’s Attorney Dora Mann played a video re-enactment of what occurred at the Hickman residence in Greenville. Hickman, who was in custody at the time, agreed to do the re-enactment.
In the video, Hickman states he was sleeping in a bed next to a basinet where the baby was located. He said he awoke about 3 a.m. and noticed the baby’s hands were cold so he raised the blanket over the infant’s chest.
The defendant then told police that about 5 a.m. he heard the baby gasp. The father arose and found the baby’s hands were over his head and the blanket was over his face.
James Hickman told police he attempted to get his son to respond, picked up the baby, allegedly shaking him. He then placed the infant on a pillow on the bed and allegedly pushed on his back.
The father said at that time he noticed blood on the pillow from the infant.
When asked on the witness stand if James Hickman gave different statements as to what happened, Chief Runyon responded yes.
Hickman’s attorney Rick Verticchio told the judge at the end of the hearing there has been no statement anywhere that his client knowingly committed an act to cause the death or injuries to the child.
State’s Attorney Mann, in asking the judge that probable cause be found, stated the baby was happy and healthy the day before and the infant’s two-month pictures had been taken. She referred to the doctor’s statement regarding the alleged cause of death and what was shown in the video re-enactment.
Hickman pled not guilty to the charges and requested a trial by jury. The case will be added to the March 11 trial docket.