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Doctor, nurse arraigned on murder, child abuse charges for death of adopted son


Doctor, nurse arraigned on murder, child abuse charges for death of adopted son

By RYAN OLSON - Staff Writer

Posted: 07/20/2012 04:14:43 PM PDT

OROVILLE — A Chico doctor and nurse were officially arraigned on murder and child endangerment charges this afternoon for the death of their 2-year-old adopted son.

Judge Michael Candela informed nurse Edelyn Yhip, 43, and Dr. James Yhip, 46, of the charges this afternoon related to the death of their son, Benjamin, on April 19.

If they are convicted of the charges, they face a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

The defendants did not enter pleas today. Defense attorneys asked for an Aug. 2 hearing for further arraignment and entry of plea.

The Yhips were arrested Wednesday following a three-month investigation into Benjamin's death.

According to Butte County sheriff's Sgt. Jason Hail, Edelyn Yhip called 9-1-1 at 6 p.m. on April 18 to report Benjamin was unresponsive. The boy was eventually transported to Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento where he died the following afternoon.

Investigators reportedly determined the cause of the death to be blunt force trauma to the head. Further review of medical and adoption records led investigators to conclude the Yhips allegedly abused the boy and that the mother was allegedly responsible for Benjamin's injuries on April 18.

Attorney John Duree Jr., representing James Yhip, and Victor Haltom, representing Edelyn Yhip, asked Candela to reduce bail for their clients. They argued the Yhips had successful medical careers and were excellent parents that repeatedly sought appropriate care for their child.

Haltom told the judge a local doctor reviewed medical records and wrote that Benjamin's death wasn't homicide. He said the doctor believes the boy suffered from a serious medical condition that can kill children before they turn 1.

Duree challenged the prosecution's allegations about the nature of Benjamin's death. He said there was no single contributing factor to the brain swelling and there were no indications of exterior bruising on the head.

Duree noted the boy had profound medical and behavior problems, even before the Yhips adopted him from Taiwan.

"This is no open and shut case, and Dr. Yhip has every intention of fighting this through," Duree said.

District Attorney Michael Ramsey disputed Duree's claims, saying there were signs of bruising. He also disputed the assertion that Benjamin's medical problems extended back to birth. Ramsey said it appeared Benjamin's medical conditions developed while under the Yhips' care.

"There is no doubt that a blunt force trauma blow killed this young man," Ramsey said.

Candela set bail at the amount recommended for the charges — $1 million each. At Ramsey's request, the judge set conditions if the Yhips are released on bail, including restrictions on seeking a passport, leaving the state without permission and to follow all court orders.

2012 Jul 20