MILWAUKEE -- Horrific allegations have come to light in the death of a 14-year-old girl. Jada Wright's caretaker, Christopher Ward, 18, of Milwaukee, is facing one count of second degree reckless homicide in connection with her death.
Wright had cerebral palsy, was non-verbal and was wheelchair-bound. She died early on Feb. 15, days after her 14th birthday, from injuries she suffered at a home near the Northridge Lakes area in Milwaukee.
According to the criminal complaint, the Milwaukee Fire Department was dispatched to the home late on Feb. 14 where Wright was being cared for -- the call concerned a lifeless child. Despite life-saving efforts, Wright died on the scene.
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office determined Wright died from blunt force injuries of the abdomen -- in addition to other blunt force injuries.
Ward was Wright's personal care worker, the complaint indicates. He is the one who apparently called 911 when Wright was found not breathing. The complaint indicates Ward first told authorities it was unusual for Wright to throw up -- and he checked on her regularly on Feb. 14. He said "there were no complications."
When investigators questioned Ward on Feb. 19, Ward "initially claimed that he tripped and accidentally fell, striking Jada Wright in the abdomen with his elbow." Detectives told Ward that account did not match the severity of injuries Wright suffered.
The complaint indicates Ward then "admitted to becoming frustrated with Jada Wright" when attempting to feed her through a G-tube. At one point, Wright was apparently able to maneuver the G-tube connection from her stomach. According to the complaint, Ward then "balled up his fist and struck Jada Wright forcefully in Jada's abdomen."
"What we see is a young man expressing extreme remorse over an incident that was far outside his control," said defense attorney, Christian Thomas. "...This is a single strike, not a beating. Not an intentional act."
Ward told authorities then connected Wright's feeding tube and left the room. About 15 minutes later, he returned and Wright was covered in vomit. The complaint says Ward "knew that something was wrong with her." Even so, he "took no action to seek additional care" for Wright, nor did he call emergency responders until much later.
Ward's attorney was hoping for a signature bond.
"Those things that you raised can be raised in front of the 12 individuals who will sit inside that box and determine guilt or innocence," said Milwaukee County Court Commissioner Robert Webb Jr.
The commissioner set a $15,000 cash bond. Ward was visibly shaken by the proceedings. The second degree reckless homicide charge he faces carries a maximum prison sentence of 25 years if convicted.
A funeral for Wright is planned for Monday, Feb. 26 at New Creatures of Christ at 2328 W. Capitol Dr. The funeral will take place at 10 a.m. and viewing at 11 a.m.