CARSON CITY, NV – A Carson City man has been convicted of child neglect with substantial bodily harm after the jury deliberated for about 45 minutes.
This is the second time a jury has convicted Justin Carrigan of this crime. The accusations came from an incident in September of 2010, when Carrigan was the sole caregiver for Rochelle Ellis, a three-year-old at the time. According to the Carson City District Attorney, deputies believed Carrigan stopped Ellis’ breathing and then neglected to seek medical treatment by leaving the scene and deliberately refusing to call 911. Carrigan’s acts caused Ellis to suffer irreversible brain damage from a lack of oxygen after her heart stopped.
In September 2011, a jury found Carrigan guilty of child neglect with substantial bodily harm but acquitted him of child abuse with substantial bodily harm. Carrigan appealed his conviction to the Nevada Supreme Court, which reversed his conviction due to an error in the trial court’s jury instruction, according to the DA's office.
A release from the DA's office indicates upon retrial, despite the expert opinion of the treating physicians that Ellis’ heart stopped due to child abuse, the court prohibited the state from introducing evidence of abuse. This left the jury to hear only evidence that Carrigan neglected to seek medical treatment for Ellis.
“Justice may have been delayed, but it was not denied to Rochelle Ellis. I am very proud of Mr. Krueger’s successful conviction in this case,” stated District Attorney Neil A. Rombardo.
Ellis, who lives in a 24-hour care facility, has made some improvements, but the course of her life has been changed forever, according to Rombardo. “While she may never understand that the person who is responsible for her permanent brain damage was found guilty, her family and friends will always remember the service and justice this jury provided to her. Two juries convicted this man of his neglect in deliberately refusing to call 911 when a toddler was obviously in need of medical attention,” stated lead prosecutor Assistant District Attorney Mark J. Krueger.
Sentencing is scheduled for October 21, 2013.