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Judge: Evidence in fatal child abuse case will be allowed at trial
Courtesy of Frederick News-Post
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Evidence collected by a sheriff's deputy who was among the first to respond to a 911 call before a baby's death will be allowed at trial, a Frederick County judge has ruled.

Ryan Wayne Huffer, 26, of Jefferson, is charged with first-degree child abuse resulting in death, first-degree child abuse resulting in serious injury and first-degree assault in connection to the 2014 death of his 3-month-old son.

On Wednesday, his attorney, Jason W. Shoemaker, sought to have portions of the state's evidence, including statements Huffer made to investigators and evidence taken from the home where he was living, excluded from trial.

The death of Logan William Luaces was ruled a homicide by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Washington in late 2014. The manner of death was determined to be traumatic brain injury, according to the Frederick County Sheriff's Office.

Logan had been staying for the weekend with Huffer at Huffer's grandmother's home in Jefferson on Feb. 15, 2014.

On the morning of Feb. 16, Huffer called 911 and told a dispatcher that the baby was limp and pale and didn't appear to be breathing. He performed CPR on the child until medics arrived around 9 a.m., according to a recording of the 911 call played in court.

A Frederick County Sheriff's Office deputy also came to the home, and arrived as medics were taking the baby to an ambulance.

Shoemaker sought to exclude Huffer's statements and evidence from the home, arguing that the deputy violated Huffer's Fourth Amendment rights by coming inside. Additionally, the deputy and other investigators Huffer spoke to during the day should have read Huffer his Miranda rights and obtained search warrants before taking Huffer's cellphone and items from the home, Shoemaker said.

Tammy Leache and Lindell K. Angel, who are prosecuting the case, said the deputies acted responsibly, lawfully entering the home after an emergency call for help, seizing items of evidence that were in plain view and which would have ultimately been discovered after the search warrant was issued, and taking Huffer's cellphone only after it became clear he was leaving the state to follow Logan to a specialized hospital.

None of the items of evidence were inspected before search warrants were issued and Huffer was not in police custody or the subject of a criminal investigation when he gave any statements, the prosecutors said.

Logan was taken to Frederick Memorial Hospital and later flown to Children's National Medical Center in Washington, where he was pronounced dead on Feb. 17.

Huffer was charged about eight months later once the medical examiner's report was complete. He is charged with first-degree assault and first-degree child abuse on Feb. 15 and first-degree child abuse resulting in death on Feb. 16.

Shoemaker said Huffer has pleaded not guilty and plans to show at trial that the baby's death was the result of an accident or other medical emergency, but not abuse.

"This is an unmitigated tragedy no matter how you look at it," Shoemaker said.

Judge G. Edward Dwyer Jr. ruled on Wednesday that the disputed pieces of evidence can be presented to a jury. A one-week trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 5.
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