Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said in court Friday the reason Seth Jackson's bond was increased to $250,000 was because facts indicated Jackson was high on the day he left 10-month-old Kadillak Poe-Jones in a hot car. Kadillak died from hyperthermia.
Bennett said Jackson had gone to his drug dealer's house on the day he left the girl in the car and had purchased marijuana. Bennett said when Jackson returned home, he consumed the marijuana and was high, leaving the 10-month-old behind in the vehicle.
Bennett and Jackson's attorney, Les Hulnick, met earlier Friday to discuss the possible reduction in Jackson's $250,000 bond. Bennett said in court he does not believe Jackson is a threat to others. The bond still stands at $250,000 but it is now a $200,000 signature bond with a $50,000 surety bond.
Hulnick said the children were taken into state custody Thursday.
The investigation continues
Kansas Department of Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore released the following statement in a news release Thursday afternoon:
“Should the allegations prove to be true, I am appalled that a precious, helpless child suffered such an unthinkable death while her foster parent was allegedly using drugs. We expect parents to protect and care for their children. We expect even more of our foster parents. They have a duty to put the children in their care before themselves always and provide a loving, safe environment. This incident is a rare exception to the otherwise strong record of foster care safety in Kansas. Drug use is not tolerated among our foster parents.”
In the release, DCF said it will continue its own investigation into the case. Plus, it will inspect other homes sponsored by TFI, the agency Jackson and his partner were licensed through to foster.
"Immediate action would be taken to ensure safety of the children," Kristin Peterman, foster care program administrator for DCF said. "So if there's a concern about drug use, any type of chemical dependency substance use, we would take action right away."
DCF said it has not discovered any serious concerns and plans to lift is moratorium on TFI soon, if no issues arise. DCF ended its contract with TFI, a subcontractor of foster care services to St. Francis and KVC in 2003.
The agency says two children have died in foster care due to maltreatment since 2001. The last death was in 2006.
Expert explains charges
Criminal Defense Attorney Brad Sylvester is not affiliated with the case, but provided his legal knowledge. He said Jackson is not facing any separate marijuana charges for several reasons. First, the charges would be minimal compared to the murder charge. Also, the allegations could be a large reason behind the severity of the larger charges.
Sylvester said for a felony murder charge, there has to be an inherently dangerous felony leading up to the death. In Jackson's case, it would be aggravated endangerment of a child.
"Kansas has defined inherently dangerous felonies, I guess in a nutshell, where people can be hurt reasonably in certain situations," Sylvester said.
In Jackson's case, Sylvester said that would be the marijuana allegations.
"In the endangering charge itself, it has marijuana as the basis for it," Sylvester said. " So they're not going to necessarily charge the marijuana because it's already part of the charge of endangering a child."
Sylvester said there are many factors that go into deciding if the endangerment is "aggravated" including the age of the child involved.
"If you tell your son to go across the street and he's 13-years-old to get a newspaper on the other side that's fine," Sylvester said. "But if you tell a three-month-old to crawl across the street, that's a little more aggravated."
Court records allege aggravated child endangerment as the basis for the felony murder charge. Sylvester said if Jackson visited a drug dealer with the kids, that could also play a part.
"Buying drugs at a drug house could be an inherently dangerous felony in and of itself," Sylvester said. "If you drive and you're on marijuana because you're smoking it, in Kansas that is a DUI. That is putting a child in danger the same way as if you're chugging whiskey going down the road."
Sylvester said the marijuana allegations are the only aspect of the case he's heard of that could qualify as an inherently dangerous felony.