COEUR d’ALENE — The bond for a 30-year-old Post Falls woman accused of beating and starving a 6-year-old was increased Monday after prosecutors added new charges.
Joy Tamika Anderson, who is in the Kootenai County Jail on a $75,000 bond, pleaded innocent to two felonies including injury to a child stemming from her alleged abuse of her stepson, and incest. She was arrested in October.
First District Judge Cynthia K.C. Meyer upped bail from $50,000 in response to an argument by deputy prosecutor Laura McClinton, who said all the evidence wasn’t heard when bond was originally set.
McClinton amended charges against Anderson to include a felony enhancement that can add 20 years to Anderson’s sentence if she’s convicted of maliciously injuring the 6-year-old. Prosecutors also added the incest charge, a felony that carries up to life in prison, although it is unrelated to the child injury charge and occurred under circumstances that appear to have been consensual, according to court testimony.
Anderson and co-defendant Melvin Bledsoe, 37, are accused of beating Bledsoe’s 6-year-old son, tying him to a bed, stepping on him and starving him.
Bledsoe, who prosecutors say is Anderson’s half-brother, is also charged with a felony for allegedly injuring the boy, and with incest. He is in jail on a $200,000 bond pending a Dec. 18 arraignment.
According to court records the 6-year-old sustained a split pancreas, an injury usually requiring a great amount of force. Post Falls Police investigators said the parents had delayed seeking medical treatment for the injury, which likely caused the boy a lot of pain, as well as bloating from fluids seeping into his body cavity.
The couple blamed the boy’s injuries on the child’s clumsiness, telling authorities that he likely fell down, or fell off his bicycle.
After the couple had the child checked at Kootenai Health, he was flown to Sacred Heart Medical Center where “life saving” surgery was performed, according to prosecutors.
A government caregiver told police the child’s injuries were among the worst of the abuse cases she had witnessed, McClinton said.
“His pancreas was transected,” McClinton said. “It was cut in half … his bones were sticking out.”
The nurse practitioner told prosecutors, “it was the second worst case of starvation she had ever seen,” McClinton said.
Defense attorney Jerri Lynn Brooks argued prosecutors had added nothing new to the evidence, and that the magistrate who initially set bond had the same information that was now being presented to the court. Brooks asked that her client’s bond be reduced, or, “in a perfect world,” that her client be released from jail on her own recognizance.
Brooks said her client had been in custody for more than a month, and that she expected Anderson to cooperate with authorities because she and Bledsoe are shifting blame.
“This is a case where these two are at odds with each other over who is responsible for these charges,” Brooks said.
Her client moved to Idaho 14 years ago, she said, and has family support in the region, and is therefore unlikely to abscond if she is released from custody.
The judge however said at least a couple new pieces of evidence were uncovered that warranted raising the bond, but not to the $200,000 prosecutors wanted.
Meyer agreed that Anderson “still enjoyed the presumption of innocence,” but sided with McClinton in that a significant prison sentence could result if Anderson is found guilty, “assuming the state prevails at trial.”
A Post Falls police report documented scars and scabs on the boy’s body. Several wounds appeared to be freshly healing. Wounds included gouges and cuts on the boy’s legs and face. Dried blood was reported on the child’s penis, and a cauliflower ear was also documented. A report said the boy’s stomach was distended, making him look pregnant.
The child is in foster care.
Meyer set the case for an April 2 jury trial that attorneys agreed would take about two weeks.