WAMPSVILLE – Statements made to police by Jesse Snow about injuries to three-year-old Aadon Olmsted were the subject of a hearing Monday afternoon at county court.
On Feb. 6, Snow, 24, called 911 to report his fiancee's son, Aadon, had fallen down the stairs. From that time through the evening of Feb. 7, Snow gave multiple statements to police, statements his defense is looking to suppress.
"I asked him what happened and he said he, being a small boy, fell down the stairs in the hallway," said Canastota Police Officer Paul Gayring, the prosecution's first witness, when asked about his conversation with Snow after he responded to the apartment where Aadon had been injured. "He tried to revive him in the shower."
Gayring was the first officer on the scene after the phone call came in shortly after 9 p.m. Feb. 6., followed by the Greater Lenox Ambulance Service, which transported Aadon to Upstate Medical Center, where he eventually died from his injuries about three weeks later. The police officer said Aadon was unresponsive and even shining a bright light in his open eyes did not yield a reaction.
"He was breathing really shallow, short breaths," Gayring said, though he added he did not check Aadon's pulse. He did observe a bump over the boy's eye and a cut lip, but no other physical injuries.
"Mr. Snow told me that he and the child had gone to get the mail and were returning to the apartment and the child had fallen down the stairs," said Deputy Julie Netzband, who took the first two written statements by Snow in the early morning of Feb. 7.
She said she asked Snow to come with her to the station, stressing that he was never in custody and that he was free to leave at any time. She read him his Miranda rights and took his first statement, in which he repeated the story of Aadon falling down the stairs.
Netzband said she was also getting reports from the hospital on Aadon's condition and told Snow she didn't believe his first statement was true because it was not matching up with information she was receiving from the hospital about the boy's injuries, a sentiment Lt. William Wilcox agreed with.
Wilcox spoke with Snow after Netzband's first interview and said the other man's story continued changing each time he told it.
"The more we talked to him, the more changed," Wilcox said. "Little things, minor details had changed about where he was, where the child was."
At one point, he asked Netzband and Deputy Ronald Marcell to let him speak with Snow alone.
"When I was by myself with him, I asked him if this is actually what happened, because the doctors at the hospital needed to know," Wilcox said.
He said Snow asked about Aadon about a half dozen times, but only asked to go to the hospital after the second interview, in which he told police that he dropped Aadon on his head while wrestling with him. Wilcox told Snow he could not go to the hospital because Child Protective Services advised against it, but did give the man a ride back to his apartment, though Snow had access to his cell phone throughout the entire evening, making and receiving phone calls, and could have called anyone to bring him home.
On Feb. 7, Investigator John Marshall with the Sheriff's Department asked Snow to give a statement and drove him to the Wampsville county campus for an interview sometime around 2 p.m.
"I asked what happened and he told me one version of what happened and I took a statement to that effect," Marshall said.
In his first statement to Marshall, Snow said he pulled Aadon off the couch because he was angry the boy had wet himself. When he yanked him off, Snow said Aadon's head hit the coffee table, then the concrete floor. He said once he realized what had happened, he tried to help Aadon by standing in the shower with him to wake him up using the water, then called 911 when it was apparent the boy was still unresponsive.
"I told Jesse I didn't believe the statements he was giving me," Marshall said.
At 9 p.m., Snow gave a second statement to Marshall, this one similar to his second statement to Netzband and Wilcox.
Snow told Marshall that he was wrestling with Aadon and had picked him up by the biceps, spinning the boy around in a similar fashion to how they'd played in the past, but that his foot caught on the thin carpet and he lost his balance.
"It happened really fast," Marshall read from Snow's statement. "I fell forward and Aadon was facing me. He hit his head first and I fell right on top of him. It was like a slam. That's what it sounded like and felt like. It was really, really hard. I don't think you could just slam something that hard by just standing there and throwing something down. My chest hit his chest, pretty much."
He continued: "Aadon's head was at an angle when it hit the floor. I don't know what side, but it was the back, top part of his head. When I landed on him, his arms were like almost over his chest and I still had hold of his biceps. He was unresponsive then. He wasn't talking, but he was kind of responsive. He wasn't crying. It was like a whimper."
Snow also told Marshall that he'd been taking Cymbalta for his bipolar disorder and that the medication made him irritable and gave him mood swings, among other side effects.
Marshall said it was only then that Snow's second statement that he was taken into custody.
Marshall was still on the stand when court recessed Monday. The hearing is scheduled to continue around July 15.