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Unreasonable search and seizure?: Defense asks court to suppress evidence in attempted murder of infant

The defense attorney for a 23-year-old Brainerd man charged with attempted murder after allegedly poisoning a 4-month-old baby girl filed a motion in court to suppress evidence obtained in the case.

Jeffrey Ryan Thomas
Jeffrey Ryan Thomas

The defense attorney for a 23-year-old Brainerd man charged with attempted murder after allegedly poisoning a 4-month-old baby girl filed a motion in court to suppress evidence obtained in the case.

The motion would have the evidence excluded from consideration by the judge or a jury trial.

Attorney Andrew Wipper filed a motion notice Friday, May 25, in Crow Wing County District Court in Brainerd, on behalf of Jeffrey Ryan Thomas. Thomas was charged Feb. 26 with first-degree attempted murder with premeditation, second-degree attempted murder without premeditation and first-degree assault to cause great bodily harm.

According to court documents, the motion filed asks the court to schedule an August contested hearing and evidentiary hearing to suppress evidence. The defense is asking for suppression of all evidence taken as a result of the search, arguing the evidence seized was a violation of Thomas' constitutional rights as an "unreasonable search and seizure." The motion argues officers did not have "adequate probable cause or sufficient reliable information" to obtain a search warrant.

The defense also asked the court to suppress evidence taken as a result of confessions, admissions or statements in nature of confessions or admission made by Thomas.

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Beyond the evidence suppression request, the defense asked the court to grant Thomas the right to have the alleged child victim undergo an independent medical evaluation for any genetic disorders and to order Crow Wing County to provide all medical records for the child prior to Jan. 18. The defense also sought all DNA and fingerprints evidence obtained by the search warrant and an analysis of that evidence prior to future hearings.

Thomas was expected to appear for court Thursday, May 31, but Wipper stated he did not plan to attend with Thomas as the matter should be set for Aug. 14.

Case background

According to the probable cause court document filed against Thomas, the Brainerd Police Department was contacted Jan. 20 by a pediatrician concerned for a 4-month-old baby girl, who was currently in their care and was critically ill. The baby's medical providers had reason to believe she was poisoned by ingesting ethylene glycol, which due to her age and lack of mobility, would have likely been provided to her by her caregivers.

The baby was admitted to Minneapolis Children's Hospital after she was airlifted from the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center emergency department due to her critical condition. Testing on the girl showed ingestion of ethylene glycol, which is commonly found in antifreeze and de-icing fluids, the complaint stated.

During the time frame leading up to the baby's onset of symptoms, she was being cared for by Thomas and his wife, who is not the baby's biological mother.

The baby recovered and was discharged from the intensive care unit about Jan. 24 and from Minneapolis Children's Hospital on Feb. 9. She is currently residing in foster care.

During the course of the investigation, Thomas told officials he prepared the bottles given to the baby prior to her becoming critically ill. Thomas and his wife denied the existence of any antifreeze in the home. Brainerd police obtained a warrant to search Thomas' home. Officers located a jug of antifreeze in the basement.

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Following a Jan. 20 interview with Thomas' wife, she provided Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents with the bottle of formula most recently fed to the baby prior to her hospitalization. The contents of the bottle of formula provided to agents was analyzed, and it was determined the bottle contained baby formula and ethanol.

A bottle of unknown purple liquid was located outside the home in the yard. BCA lab tests results indicate ethanol was present. A search of the defendant's phone revealed he'd accessed the Wikipedia page for ethylene glycol poisoning, the complaint stated, which noted ethanol is a potential antidote for that type of poisoning.

Searches of Thomas' and his wife's cellphones contained text messaging depicting significant issues surrounding the paternity of the baby and the woman's dislike of the baby, according to court documents. Agents found concerning internet searches on Thomas' cellphone on Jan. 12, with a search done on "what does antifreeze do to the human body." Additionally, a Wikipedia page was also included in defendant's search history for ethylene glycol.

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