Floyd County trial in infant’s death delayed until next year after COVID exposures
By Bob Steenson, [email protected]
A Charles City man whose trial on charges including first-degree murder was supposed to have started last week will now wait until January for the trial to begin.
Shane Michael Morris, age 26, had been charged with first degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death for his alleged involvement in the death of his 3½-month-old son in August 2019.
The trial had been scheduled to begin Tuesday, Sept. 14, but was continued last week because “several individuals necessary for the trial have been exposed to COVID-19,” according to an order by Judge James Drew filed in Floyd County District Court.
On Tuesday this week a notice was filed in District Court saying the trial has been rescheduled to begin Jan. 24, 2022. Two weeks has been allotted for the trial, the notice said, the same length of time that had been scheduled originally.
Morris is accused of being responsible for the death of his son, Xander Michael Morris, who was taken to Floyd County Medical Center on the morning of Aug. 3, 2019. The boy was intubated at the Floyd County hospital, then transferred by air ambulance to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he died on Aug. 4, allegedly as the result of injuries.
An autopsy was performed at the Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s Office on Aug. 5, and concluded the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and the manner was homicide, according to the criminal complaint filed in Floyd County District Court.
Court documents allege Morris at first denied any knowledge of what had happened to his son, but later told authorities that “while walking with the child in his arms, he tripped and the child’s head struck the edge of their kitchen counter.”
Morris allegedly told authorities that after striking the edge of the counter, he fell on the floor with the child under him.
Morris is charged with murder in the first degree for allegedly killing the boy, “having malice aforethought … while committing an assault and the death occurred under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life.”
First degree murder is Class A felony, punishable in Iowa by mandatory life in prison.
Morris is also charged with child endangerment resulting in death, a Class B felony, because, as the boy’s parent, he allegedly “knowingly acted in a manner that created a substantial risk to X.M.’s physical health or safety resulting in the death of X.M.”
Morris is represented by Judith O’Donohoe of Charles City.
The Floyd County Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case, with the assistance of an Iowa assistant attorney general.