Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Jury finds Ellen Tran guilty of causing toddler's death after four-day trialSubmitted: 10/25/2018
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

Jury finds Ellen Tran guilty of causing toddler's death after four-day trial
RHINELANDER - An Oneida County jury found Ellen Tran, 30, guilty of first-degree reckless homicide after one hour, 39 minutes of deliberation on Thursday afternoon.

Tran showed no expression as she was placed in handcuffs and walked out of the courtroom by sheriff's deputies. She now faces up to 60 years in prison when sentenced.

The jury started deliberating at 12:36 p.m. on Thursday. Eight men and four women reviewed four days worth of evidence in this case.


It considered whether Tran caused the death of 20-month-old Avery Edwards in April 2017 at a home near Rhinelander. Tran said her stepson slipped in the shower on the night he died. But prosecutors believe much more happened.

In his closing argument to the jury Thursday morning, Oneida County District Attorney Michael Schiek admitted he didn't know exactly what happened to Edwards the night of April 14, 2017. But he was confident Tran did it.

"Was she holding him by the legs? I don't know. Was she holding him by the arms? Throw him against the wall in the bathroom? I don't know. But all of those bruises are consistent with something like that," Schiek told the jury.

Bruises marked the body of Edwards when he died later that night.

"A 20-month-old against an adult. It's not a fair fight," Schiek said.

Tran was the only adult home when she called 911 at around 6:25 p.m. that night. During that call, Tran made no mention of Edwards slipping in the shower, the story she later told investigators. Schiek contended the narrative about a fall in the shower was simply a cover story for more serious harm Tran did.

Schiek said Tran's defense strategy was to "throw up some softballs and see what works."

Defense attorney Jonas Bednarek argued there were too many alternate possibilities to explain Edwards' death to convict Tran.

"I can't tell you exactly what happened," Bednarek said. "I wish I could, but I can't. And nobody can."

Bednarek offered influenza or a pseudoephedrine overdose as possible explanations.

He also singled out Trung Tran as a suspect.

"Is there suspicion there? Damn right. He is not a good man. We can all agree on that. He is a bad man. He's a bad father. He's a bad husband. Dammit, he was probably a bad doctor, too," Bednarek said.

Trung Tran was Edwards' father and Ellen's wife at the time. It's easy to imagine Trung Tran getting violent with Edwards, Bednarek argued. In testimony earlier Thursday, past wives and girlfriends of Trung Tran called him an abuser who skipped on child support.

Suzanne and Trung Tran were married four or five years before their divorce in 2007. They had two children together.

"I know there was once or twice that he did slap my daughter in the face," Suzanne Tran said. "I said that, you know, this was the icing on the cake. I'm going to leave."

Trung Tran then dated Candice Joiner for six years until 2012, fathering a child by her. She testified about his emotional and physical abuse to her and the child.

"He picked me up by my neck off the floor and proceeded to beat me with his hands and knees," Joiner said.

Joiner told the jury Trung Tran was uninterested in paying child support after the two split. In fact, she said, Trung Tran terminated the parental rights to his son instead of paying child support.

Ellen Tran's defense team portrayed Trung Tran as willing to do almost anything to avoid paying child support for Edwards, his son. Lawyers implied he might go so far as to inflict deadly injuries.

Ellen Tran chose not to testify in her own defense.

Early in its deliberation, the jury asked to review a report by a Marshfield Clinic doctor who inspected Edwards' body after death.

Her sentencing has not yet been scheduled.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

MADISON - Lawyers for Ashlee Martinson won't get a chance to argue their case before the state Supreme Court.

When Martinson was 17 years old in 2015, she killed her mother and stepfather at their home east of Rhinelander.

She's now serving 23 years in prison.

On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear her appeal.

Her lawyers argued that, because of her history and mental state, she didn't think she had a choice whether to kill her parents.

+ Read More

Play Video

TRIPOLI - A vehicle struck and killed a mother bear last Thursday evening on Hwy 8 outside of Tripoli. USDA Wildlife Services has been searching for her three orphaned cubs. They set up cub traps near the scene. After three days there have been no sightings. 

Wildlife Biologist David Ruid has been involved with the search and said rehab is the safest option for the cubs and people.

"In a lot of situations, if you don't capture and remove those cubs they're going to continue to hang out in that area and could be struck by a vehicle," said Ruid. "There's a potential for a vehicle accident. The best solution is to capture and rehab them for the year."

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - Ed Kemery's Facebook group doubled in size over the last few weeks, sparking an interest in something he knows very little about.

"Almost no experience at all in theater," Kemery admitted.  "I kind of see myself as a catalyst [here.]"

Kemery grew up in Pennsylvania, but moved to Merrill two years ago to get closer to his wife's home town. Recently, the couple thought about what would draw in more people and settled on a dinner theater.

"I thought, well, why not Merrill"" Kemery said.

+ Read More

KENOSHA - Police in Kenosha are investigating the death of a 5-year-old boy who was dropped off at a hospital after he was shot.

Police say the shooting happened before 2 p.m. Monday at a Kenosha residence. Authorities got a call from staff at Froedtert South Hospital-Kenosha Campus after two people dropped off the boy, then left.

+ Read More

OSHKOSH - The badger state crowned new royalty in Oshkosh this summer. Alyssa Bohm, formerly Miss Rock River Valley, won the Miss Wisconsin pageant Saturday. 

Along with the crown and title, Bohm earned a $10,000 scholarship and will represent Wisconsin at the 2020 Miss America Competition.

Bohm hopes to use her platform to enhance opportunities for individuals with special needs. 

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - Strawberry farmers wait all year long for three weeks each summer when their crops will be ready to harvest. Bad weather across the Midwest this spring left those producers behind schedule.

Mike Matushak with Engelberry Farm in Merrill says the strawberry harvest in Southern Wisconsin usually come sooner than it does in the North. Producers a little further south in Waupaca already rang in their harvesting season with a strawberry festival Saturday.

+ Read More

PLOVER - A Plover woman died after she was hit in a parking lot over the weekend.

According to Plover police, Rose Ann Krueger was walking through the Copps Grocery Store parking lot on Plover Road around 8:15 p.m. Saturday when a 2010 Nissan Titan SUV hit her.

Krueger, 72, was taken to Aspirus Hospital in Wausau where she later died.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: