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Bond denied for man charged in toddler’s death

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Prosecution has been ready to go to trial

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The turmoil of two families waiting for the clogged wheels of justice to get moving again was evident in a third bond attempt by a Jones County defendant.

Willie Earl Sanders Jr. was in Jones County Superior Court March 3 asking to be released on bond. He request was once again denied.

Sanders was arrested Oct. 17, 2018, and charged with aggravated battery concerning the death of 21-month-old Preston Nelson. Following an autopsy of the victim, the charges were increased to felony murder.

The defendant was represented in the bond hearing by defense attorney Darice Good, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Dawn Baskin prosecuted the case.

Good told the court that Sanders was raised in Jones County, and, if granted bond, would stay with his mother. She added that he would also have a job if released.

The defense attorney said her client had been in jail for two and a half years, and during that time, the two other cases he was facing had been resolved.

She went on to claim that facts had been omitted at the two previous bond hearings.

Good alleged the victim was born with a brain injury, and experts would testify to medical issues at the trial that could have contributed to the toddler’s death.

“In light of the facts, and that he was only alone with the child for five minutes, I ask you to release my client on bond,” she said.

Good added that Sanders had no objection to house arrest and/ or an ankle monitor.

Baskin said Sanders had two lengthy bond hearings previously. She said she did not think that the resolution of the defendant’s other cases made a difference in the question of a bond.

“He is still a risk to commit felonies,” she said.

The prosecutor said she disagrees with the medical arguments brought up by the defense. She noted that the case was set to go to trial in June of 2020, and the state is ready.

Baskin said she had a concern that a family member of the defendant was communicating with the mother of the victim.

The defense contended that the mother was in favor of Sanders’ release, but Baskin disagreed.

“She told us she did not want him out,” the prosecutor said.

Baskin asked the court to deny bond.

At the conclusion of the arguments by the defense and state, Chief Superior Court Judge Brenda Trammell denied bond. The judge also stated that the date for the trial should be set as soon as it can be worked out with the court.

According to a story about the toddler’s death in The Jones County News, the incident took place after the mother went into a grocery store and left the toddler in the car with Sanders. When she came out of the store, Sanders was walking toward her with the child. A nurse on the scene attempted to administer CPR. Because there was not an ambulance nearby, the child was transported in a patrol car with an EMT in the backseat to meet the ambulance.

The child was placed on life support after arriving at the hospital but was pronounced deceased after it was determined he had no brain activity.