Attorneys: Park City parents to get separate juries for child's death at trial
Should their case go to trial, an estranged Park City couple plan to blame each other for not giving their son the required medication to fend off his body's rejection of a new heart, attorneys said in court Thursday.
Attorneys for David Stroud, 41, and Jennifer Stroud, 36, cited "antagonistic defenses" as the reason for severing their case from each other and be awarded separate juries.
In addition, Jennifer Stroud's attorney, Elliot Pinsel, and David Stroud's attorneys, Sharmilla Manik and Evan Atwood from the Lake County public defender's office, admitted to Judge Daniel Shanes the two sides planned to use statements each defendant gave to police to blame the other for not administering the proper medication to Jason Stroud, who died in 2016.
"Both sides will be pointing the finger at each other to some degree at trial," Pinsel said in court.
Shanes decided to sever the case between the spouses, who filed for divorce in July. However, Shanes said he would consider holding a rare double jury should the case continue to trial later this year.
Attorneys previously said holding a double jury trial could be helpful due to the voluminous amount of medical information that would need to be presented. Lawyers would be able to present that information to the separate juries at the same time, but allow individual juries assigned to each defendant in the courtroom when hearing testimony on individual cases.
Jennifer and David Stroud separately pleaded not guilty to felony charges of manslaughter and child endangerment stemming from their son's death. They each face up to 14 years in prison if found guilty at trial.
Jason was a sixth-grader at Woodland Middle School in Gurnee when he died Sept 11, 2016, four years after undergoing heart transplant surgery in Milwaukee.
After the Strouds left Milwaukee and moved to Park City in 2015, they were expected to take Jason to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago for regular visits. The couple were also tasked with giving Jason daily medication in order to prevent his body from rejecting the new heart, authorities said.
After Jason missed several hospital appointments between December 2015 and August 2016, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services performed a well-being check on the family. Jason was taken to the hospital, where doctors discovered his body was rejecting the donor heart because he had not been taking the required medication, authorities said.
His parents were charged after a lengthy criminal investigation into the child's death.
Jennifer Stroud is free from the Lake County jail after posting 10 percent of her $75,000 bail. David Stroud remains in jail on the same bail amount.
The Strouds are due back in court Feb. 28 for status.