Las Vegas Sun

August 25, 2019

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Foster mom loses appeal of child-murder conviction

A Las Vegas woman convicted of first-degree murder in the death of a 7-month-old-foster child in her care, lost an appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Melanie Ochs -- sentenced to 20-50 years in the August 2006 death of "Baby Boy Charles" -- argued there were six errors during the District Court trial that warranted reversal of her conviction.

Ochs maintained that she had set the child on the washing machine to change his diaper but she was distracted by the two other children who were arguing. Ochs said she heard a thud and came back to find the boy had fallen off the washing machine. She called for help and initially told first responders she found the boy barely breathing in his crib. She said she tried to blow air into his lungs but he vomited in her mouth.

She then gave differing stories -- one that the boy had fallen in the bathtub and another that one of the other children had knocked him to the ground.

Then she said the boy had fallen from a washing machine and suffered the head injury.

In her appeal, she argued that four doctors should not have been allowed to testify. She said the doctors were not qualified to testify about the baby's injuries and the cause of death.

Medical Examiner Dr. Gary Telgenhoff said the cause of death was blunt force trauma. There were bruises found on other parts of the baby's body.

The Supreme Court said the doctors "testified specifically about the baby's injuries based on their knowledge from treating him or inspecting his body or CT scans."

It ruled that District Judge Michael Villani did not error in admitting this testimony. And it rejected the five other claims of errors committed at the trial.

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