Man Charged in Connection to Death of Infant in Benton County

James Joseph Robert Wood Photo: Benton County
James Joseph Robert Wood

October 18, 2018 02:07 PM

A St. Joseph man has been charged in connection to the death of an infant in Benton County, according to court records.

A criminal complaint states James Joseph Robert Wood faces one count of second-degree murder, one count of third-degree murder and one count of first-degree manslaughter.

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According to the complaint, deputies with the Benton County Sheriff's Office were called on the morning of Oct. 13 to a residence outside of Rice on the report of a dead infant. When first responders arrived, they located a deceased 7-month-old. 

The complaint said the victim's mother said Wood regularly stayed at the residence on the weekends. 

RELATED: Man Arrested in Connection to Death of 7-Month-Old in Benton County

The victim's mother said Wood arrived at the home around 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 12. The complaint said the infant was put to bed approximately 30 minutes later. 

According to the complaint, the victim's mother said after putting her 4-year-old son to bed, she and Wood had drinks inside of a detached garage. The woman said she then went to bed between 11:30 p.m. and midnight, and that Wood did not join her. 

The complaint said on the morning of Oct. 13, she noticed Wood was not at the home and he did not respond to text messages. 

The complaint goes on to say when she went to check on the infant, she found the child had bruises all over his face and was cold to the touch.

According to the complaint, a deputy who responded to the initial call overheard the woman's 4-year-old son say, "Oh, James hit him," when asked if he had seen anything. 

RELATED: Benton County Sheriff's Office Investigating Death of Infant

The complaint said in a later interview, the 4-year-old son told investigators again that Wood punched the infant. 

Wood was later located in the Morrison County Jail. According to the complaint, he was arrested on Oct. 13 by Morrison County deputies after he was found driving northbound in the southbound lanes of Highway 10.  

The complaint said Wood refused a breath test and said he was trying to travel out of the state. 

A doctor from the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office declared the manner of death as a homicide and said the child died from blunt force head injuries. 

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Ben Rodgers

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