Legal expert: Infant's mysterious death could help parents' cases

KDBC
Friday, January 31, 2014 - 12:35am

A five-month-old baby boy's death may forever remain a mystery and a criminal defense attorney in El Paso says that could be in his parents' favor.

Jackson Farrey's body was found in November, buried in the New Mexico desert.

Both his parents now face charges related to his death but medical examiners who performed an autopsy on baby Jackson had no luck figuring out exactly how he died.

"If you don't know how the person died, how this child died, or what was the manner or means which effectuated the death, that's going to be a real problem for prosecutors," said Dereck Wyatt, a criminal defense attorney in El Paso.

According to Jackson's autopsy report, investigators found his body in "a shallow grave," "wrapped in a fleece blanket," wearing a "soiled diaper," and "badly decomposed."

Guadalupe Tapia, a forensic specialist and teacher at Silva Health Magnet High School, says it can be difficult or nearly impossible to figure out someone's cause of death if the body is decomposed badly enough.

"Has to do with like how heavy is the body, you know, so that is also a factor, if it is with clothing or naked or no clothes," said Tapia.

And weather also plays its part.

Tapia says bodies decompose much faster in the desert where it's hot rather than in a place where it is cold.

"Facts like that are a defense attorney's dream," said Wyatt.

He isn't involved with the Farrey case but says the mystery behind Jackson's death makes it tougher to pin the death on his parents because what's missing is the scientific evidence, something you can see and prove, like fingerprints or DNA.

But ultimately, the fate of Jenna and Jeffrey Farrey lies in the hands of a jury.

"A. Heavily Hispanic in this town, heavily Roman Catholic, people have a lot of children, and they seem to cut you a lot of latitude on some things but not child abuse so I think that's going to be a rough one for them to overcome," said Wyatt.

Jeffrey Farrey is charged with Injury to a Child by Omission, while his wife Jenna is accused of Injury to a Child.

Both are in jail on a $1.5 million bond.

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