Preliminary Hearing in Death of Davis Baby Resumes

Yolo-Count-Court-Room-600by Makisha Singh

The preliminary hearing for Darnell Dorsey resumed on January 21, 2015. Dorsey, a 21-year-old Sacramento man who is being charged with assault resulting in death of a 20-month-old child, had been previously charged with assault resulting in bodily injury back in 2011.

This morning the hearing began with the testimony of Officer Eric Labbe, who has been with the Davis Police Department for approximately 12 years. On January 22, 2014, an American Medical Response (AMR) ambulance at the Davis Dutch Bros. coffee kiosk accepted an unresponsive child and transported the child and mother to Sutter Davis Hospital. The officer responded to a report of an unresponsive child and uncooperative parents.

Labbe arrived at Sutter’s Emergency Room at 11:56 PM. Upon arrival, Labbe saw the child being worked on while Dorsey and the child’s mother, Veronica Ricks, sat next to each other. Labbe described Dorsey as calm and not showing much emotion. Labbe also mentioned that Dorsey would avoid making eye contact with him. Officer Labbe described Ricks as more hysterical, with uncontrollable crying. Labbe spoke first with Ricks, although she was visibly very upset and it was difficult to get a statement from her. In their brief exchange, Labbe was informed by Ricks that her child had had flu-like symptoms for the past few days and that she had been at the gym with her aunt for 45 minutes before coming home to her unresponsive child. Ricks stated to Labbe that she blew air in the child’s mouth, presumably to administer CPR, but the child remained unresponsive.

Dorsey told the officer that he was home with the child, Cameron, along with his son, Cameron’s older half-brother, Julian, at the time of the incident. Dorsey’s explanation of the situation is that he left Cameron in the living room to go put Julian to bed and when he came back he found Cameron lying flat on the ground. After yelling at him, Dorsey saw Cameron was unresponsive and began slapping him in the face with an open palm and at this point he said Cameron may have gasped. When this wasn’t successful in getting Cameron to be responsive, Dorsey splashed water on him. Then Dorsey took Cameron about 50 feet away to the child’s maternal grandparents’ home. When there was no response there, he brought Cameron back home to find that Veronica was also back and they left for the hospital. Dorsey did not call 911 and there was no explanation as to why not.

The next witness called was Detective John Evans, who has been with the Davis Police Department for 10 years. Evans responded to Sutter Davis and upon arrival he spoke to Dorsey first. Evans described that the hospital was chaotic and that Paul Contini, Sr., Veronica Ricks’ father, and other family members were accusatory toward Dorsey. Evans arrested Dorsey at the hospital. After arresting Dorsey, Evans spoke to a doctor who gave him information regarding Cameron’s injuries. Cameron had bleeding of the brain, retinal hemorrhaging, along with new and old broken ribs. The old breaks could have been about a month old, and the new ones could have been a day or two old.

While Dorsey did not live with Ricks, he was there every day. The only other people who took care of the kids were Ricks’ mother, Tracy Ricks, and Dorsey’s friend Dominic. Evans confirmed that Dorsey said he viewed Cameron as his stepson. Evans also relayed that, after slapping Cameron and splashing water on him, Dorsey shook him by the shoulders. When Ricks came home from the gym, Dorsey said Cameron wasn’t breathing and that’s when they took off for the hospital. Near their home, however, they saw an ambulance at Dutch Bros. and took the child to the paramedics.

Dorsey admitted to hitting/patting Cameron on the back but not hard enough to break any ribs. Although Cameron had a lacerated organ, Dorsey claimed not to have hit him in the stomach. He did, however, admit to shaking him and admitted he may have dropped Cameron when fumbling with the door to go to Tracy Ricks’ home.

Inconsistent with Labbe’s testimony, Evans did not describe Dorsey as calm or unemotional, instead describing him as agitated and distraught. Dorsey, who was already under arrest at the time, was taken to the police station for further questioning. During questioning, Evans made it clear he did not believe that Dorsey had not shaken the baby until after finding him unresponsive.

The preliminary hearing will now resume before Judge Paul Richardson on February 26 and 27.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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  1. hpierce

    Journalistic question…  why do the writers on this (and other “court” stories), seem to go to great lengths to cite how long ‘testifying officers’ have worked for the City (as opposed to “total years in law enforcement”, for example), yet gloss over the “creds” of others… how long was the accused in a relationship with the mother of the victim, how long was the mother a mother? How long has the defense/prosecuting attorney practiced law with the County, etc.?

    Seems that at least in this type of case the length of service with a specific agency does nothing to bolster/impugn the credibility of the officers.   At least to me.  Comments from the reporters?

      1. Matt Williams

        David, I read hpierce’s journalistic question as a journalistic question … one that would improve the quality and value of the articles written by the interns. With the disclaimer that the Court Watch articles are the ones I read least often on the Vanguard, I think hpierce’s suggestion should be incorporated int the interns’ training materials.

      2. hpierce

        Yes… and interns are generally under supervision, and their product doesn’t “go out” until vetted by their mentor/supervisor.  Particularly, “brand new ones”.

    1. Highbeam

      Also, hp, the observers are trying to report what they hear and see in the courtroom. When a witness takes the stand (whether being designated as expert witness or not), the initial questions will usually be first their name, spell it for the court reporter, what is your occupation, employer, how long, etc.

      1. hpierce

        Fair answers (particularly Highbeam’s… Davids first sentence came across as somewhat ‘dismissive’)… meant as a fair question…  just really stood out in today’s piece and somewhat in the previous one in this particular case.

      2. Matt Williams

        Point well taken Highbeam about that procedurally driven access to the information for the witnesses called to the stand. Do the lawyers (in their questions) establish the “creds” of the witnesses who don’t fall into the “testifying officer” category?

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