A fund-raising effort is under way to help offset medical and funeral expenses for the family of Orlando Were. Click here for details.
An Omaha mother grieving the loss of her 16-month-old son appeared in Sarpy County court Tuesday afternoon to court on an unrelated issue.
Last week, Orlando Were died while his mother's boyfriend was watching him.
Investigators believe it's a case of shaken baby syndrome.
The mom's boyfriend -- Tyler Kennedy -- claims the baby choked on a bottle cap.
Investigators don't believe him and are charging him with child abuse resulting in death.
Only a WOWT 6 News camera was there as the child's mother -- Cindy Cooper -- saw a Judge Wester in Sarpy County regarding a different case.
Back in May -- Bellevue Police said Cindy Cooper was holding the infant while allegedly assaulting the boy's father.
For that she's charged with misdemeanor domestic assault and child neglect.
In court today she asked if she could quote: "push the court date back" because she was "trying to deal with her son's funeral and grieving."
The judge told her that was an issue for her new attorney. The Sarpy County Public Defender's withdrew representation because the office had represented the child's father in the past. When the judge asked about the conflict, the public defender said they had knowledge of the couple's relationship.
Friday, August 1
Bond was set Friday morning at 10 percent of $150,000 for an Omaha man charged with felony child abuse resulting in death.
During the court hearing, prosecutors began to lay their case out against Tyler Kennedy, saying that he admitted to slapping and shaking 16-month-old Orlando Were.
According to prosecutors, Kennedy was caring for his girlfriend's son while she was at work last Saturday when medics were called to their home near North 36th Avenue and Pinkney Street just after 6:30 p.m.
Prosecutors say the story Kennedy gave police didn’t match the evidence doctors found. He claimed the baby choked on a bottle cap.
In court on Friday, prosecutors said doctors believe the boy’s injuries were consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome. Prosecutors also say Kennedy admitted to slapping the baby across the face and shaking him, but then Kennedy tried to minimize the statement.
Orlando’s father, Ferri Were, spoke with WOWT 6 News on Thursday night and told us, “I’m going to let the law do what they’re going to do because if it were up to me he wouldn’t have stood in that hospital room with me. If I knew what happened, he wouldn’t have made it out.”
Kennedy’s family tells a different story. They were on hand during his Friday court appearance to show support. They say no crime was committed and Orlando’s death was just a tragic accident.
Tyler’s mother, Tammy said, “I know my son loved him. Never seen him be cross to the baby at all. The mother doesn’t believe any of this. She’s supporting him.”
Tyler’s uncle, Don Glaze, said, “It’s a tragedy all the way around. He has three other children as well. I can’t, never seen him raise a hand be cross.”
Tyler Kennedy’s family is rallying around him. They support his claim that Orlando choked on a bottle cap and that was the cause of his death. Tyler’s mom says she was at the hospital after doctors examined the child.
She said, “They came back and told both Cindy and Tyler there’s no noticeable trauma yet they told Cindy when they had her down at the police station, that there was broken neck and it looked like he had been smothered. None of that was true. I was there when the physicians talked to Cindy. None of that was true. The police are fabricating.”
Tammy said her son panicked and called 911 when he discovered the child choking. There are two different versions of what happed last Saturday.
An autopsy is pending. Tyler’s mother, a Registered Nurse, says the autopsy results could be skewed because doctors treated the child for choking.
Kennedy is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on September 2nd. If convicted, he faces 20 years to life in prison.