Medical evidence awaited in Duluth child death

Tom Olsen, Duluth News Tribune, Minn.
·3 min read

Apr. 16—A defense attorney said he has now received autopsy information but continues to await additional medical reports in the death of a 3-year-old Duluth child last year.

Jordan William Carter, 31, was arrested and charged in December with unintentional second-degree murder after authorities said his claim of an accidental fall failed to account for the serious blunt-force trauma suffered by his then-fiancee's son, Cameron Joseph Gordon.

Carter, who is free on bond, made a virtual appearance Friday in State District Court, where his attorney, Eric Olson, requested a second continuance due to still-outstanding evidence.

The hearing was first postponed in February, when attorneys indicated they had yet to receive finalized reports from a medical examiner. Olson said he has since secured that information but is continuing to seek hospital treatment records that may require a court order to obtain.

"We are taking steps to make sure that the evidence at the hospital is not destroyed, moved on or tampered with, so that our experts would be able to see all the scans that were done at the hospital," Olson said. "The hospital, I think, is cooperative to a degree, but is requiring certain hoops for us all to jump through."

Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Vicky Wanta did not oppose the delay. Judge Theresa Neo set a new omnibus hearing for June 14, at which point the defense may be prepared to raise any challenge to probable cause or constitutional issues.

According to court documents, Cameron and his mother, Heather Bouchard, lived with Carter and his family on the 4800 block of East Colorado Street in the Lakeside neighborhood. Bouchard would work during the day, while Carter would care for the child.

Carter allegedly told police that he was in the kitchen preparing dinner Sept. 3 when he heard Cameron fall down the stairs. He said he went to check on the child and saw that he "bounced up like it's no big deal," according to a criminal complaint. He said Cameron later vomited on two occasions and didn't eat for the rest of the day, but otherwise seemed to be getting back to normal.

Cameron was "back to his normal routine" the following day, he reported, though authorities said he wrote to Bouchard in a text message at one point: "You gave birth to satan." The defendant told investigators he directed Cameron to go clean up his room around 4:45 p.m. that day.

Carter, according to the complaint, said he went upstairs a short time later and discovered the child unresponsive and that he "shook, slapped and splashed water" on the child to try to get him to wake up.

As Bouchard arrived home, Carter raced outside with Cameron and told her to get back in the car and drive to the hospital. The mother placed a 911 call en route, saying she was worried they would not make it in time to save the child.

Cameron was rushed to Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center, where doctors suspected child abuse. He was quickly flown to Children's Minnesota hospital in Minneapolis.

Staff at Children's reported bruising to Cameron's head, forearm, hip, shins and back. He was said to be suffering from hemorrhaging in the brain and retinas, as well as internal abdominal injuries. A healing rib fracture was estimated to be several weeks old.

A doctor with the Midwest Children's Resource Center examined Cameron and "assessed that his injuries were not consistent with a stairway fall," the complaint states. She said a deep brain injury would be expected to occur shortly after the trauma was inflicted, not a "prolonged period" as described in Carter's account.

Cameron was removed from life support on Sept. 6. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office ruled his death a homicide by blunt-force trauma to the head and neck, concurring that the boy's injuries were inconsistent with a fall down the stairs.