A Cerro Gordo County jury has found a Mason City man guilty of child endangerment resulting in death. Thirty-year-old Kenneth Adams now faces up to 50 years in prison for the death of his 18-month-old son, Owen, last October.
Prosecutors alleged the boy head-butted his father, prompting Adams to get angry and hold the child face-down in a pillow. Assistant County Attorney Blake Norman, in his closing arguments, used a doll to show jurors what Adams did. “He held him like this and as Owen struggled against his father and is trying to turn away from him, (Adams) put pressure on him to keep Owen’s face in that pillow,” Norman said.
Norman said Adams was obsessed with video games and was angry that Owen was throwing a temper tantrum. “Why did he do this? Because he wanted Owen to shut up,” Norman told jurors. “(Adams) wanted to get back to doing what he wanted to do. He wanted to go play video games and he can’t do that when he has a screaming child sitting there throwing a tantrum.”
Defense attorney Susan Flander argued the state failed to prove that Adams intentionally forced Owen down into the pillow to cut off his breathing. “There is reasonable doubt. The state has not proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Flander said.
Adams admitted “feeling responsible” for Owen’s death in an interview with police, but Flander said that doesn’t mean Adams killed his child. “That doesn’t mean…that Ken acted with the knowledge he was creating a substantial risk of death,” Flander said. “Being responsible is not an admission (of guilt)…he’s responsible because he was there, not because of what he did.”
It took the jury less than 45 minutes to return the verdict. District Judge Gregg Rosenblatt revoked Adams’ bond and ordered he continue to be held in the Cerro Gordo County Jail until his sentencing on November 8.
(Reporting by, Bob Fisher, KGLO, Mason City)