Hearing set in baby death case

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Mike DuPre'
December 19, 2007
— More details about the Dec. 8 death of a 14-month-old boy may be revealed next week if the boy’s father, who is charged with child neglect in connection with the death, does not waive his right to a preliminary hearing.

Charles R. Rivers, 34, of 171 Linn St., Janesville, is charged with obstructing and child neglect resulting in death in the case of the death of his 14-month-old son, Israel Gordon.

Court Commissioner Charles Holznecht on Tuesday scheduled a preliminary hearing for 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 27. At a preliminary hearing, the prosecution presents evidence in an attempt to convince the court that the defendant probably committed a felony. The defendant can waive his right to the hearing, however.

Holznecht continued Rivers’ cash bond of $5,500—$5,000 on the felony neglect case and $500 for the misdemeanor obstructing charge.

Rivers remained in custody this morning at the Rock County Jail.

Rivers initially told authorities that he had a hold of his son as the boy stood in a bathtub to be bathed the morning of Dec. 8 and that his son slipped and hit the back of his head on the tub or wall. Rivers said he didn’t think the injury was serious and there was no bump on the boy’s head, according to the criminal complaint against him.

But after several interviews with Janesville detectives, Rivers said the baby was standing on the side of the tub and that he let go of him to reach for something.

The baby slipped and “went face first into the corner of the tub, striking it very hard,” according to the complaint.

The pathologist who performed the autopsy on Israel Gordon said wounds on the baby’s mouth indicated at least one severe facial impact. The pathologist also said that “he felt it would have been readily apparent to any attentive childcare-giver that the child was badly injured and in severe distress,” according to the complaint.

Later on Dec. 8, Rivers and his girlfriend, April S. Peabody, 26, same address, took Gordon and a daughter of Peabody along with them as they went to Beloit to buy heroin or some other drug to feed Rivers’ habit, the criminal complaint charges.

Peabody was arrested on a preliminary charge of obstructing.

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