Her 12-week-old son was healthy just hours before she left him in the care of a friend, a mother testified at the Riley County Courthouse Thursday. But upon her return, she made a 911 call saying he appeared to have bruises and trouble breathing.
Senior Deputy Riley County Attorney Barry Disney questioned Jessica Hudson about the incidents and care of her infant son, Michael Calvert Jr., leading up to his death during the trial of D’Khari Lyons, who is charged with first-degree murder and abuse of a child.
On Nov. 8, Riley County emergency dispatch received a call at about 8:30 a.m. regarding an infant who had trouble breathing at an apartment at 916 Bluemont Ave. Emergency responders took the child to Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan before flying him to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, where he later died on Nov. 11. Medical examiners ruled the death as a homicide caused by abusive head trauma.
During her testimony, Hudson described her son Michael’s health as “good,” and said he was physically fine before the November incident. Although he was born about three weeks early, she had no complications during the birth and said her daughters also had been born a few weeks early. She said doctors had not noted any major health issues with Michael.
Hudson said Michael had been fussy in the week before his death, and she attributed the behavior to constipation problems. She said the baby had been with his father the weekend prior, but the father, with whom she didn’t live, also did not note anything about Michael’s health other than fussiness. Hudson also said she had taken Michael to the doctor the day before the incident. The doctor only prescribed him medication to treat pink eye.
Hudson said she met Lyons through work, and they began “hanging out” in October 2018. She said he often came and spent the night at her apartment, where she lived with her children. She said she “pretty much” considered the two of them to be in a relationship.
The night before the incident, Hudson said Lyons came over after he got off work as he usually did. She said she fed Michael throughout the night, and he was alert.
In the 911 call Hudson made on Nov. 8, which was played in court, Hudson told the dispatcher that although her son was breathing, it sounded like he was wheezing, and he was generally unresponsive. She said she could also see what looked like bruises on his chest, which she had not noticed earlier that morning. Hudson said she had left her son in the care of Lyons, while she dropped her two young daughters off at the bus stop and school. She later testified it usually took about 20 minutes for her to take them there and return home.
In RCPD officer Jonathan Shepard’s body camera footage of his response to the incident, Lyons is seen letting Shepard into the building and leading him to the apartment. While Shepard checks Michael’s condition, Lyons said he and Michael had been lying on the bed together when the baby started coughing, so he turned him on his side but otherwise had not done anything to him.
Shepard said he noted bruising along the child’s neck and swelling on the left side of his face. Shepard took photos of Michael’s injuries at the hospital and later took another set of images after hospital staff alerted him to more bruising, redness and swelling on the child’s head and face.
The trial was still going on at press time and was scheduled to continue through the afternoon.