Foster dad ordered to stand trial for murder

URBANA — A judge Tuesday found probable cause to hold a Rantoul man for trial on charges that he murdered his foster son last month.

Judge Tom Difanis assigned Patrick Kennedy's case to Judge Heidi Ladd and ordered Kennedy to be back in court June 17.

Also Tuesday, State's Attorney Julia Rietz filed a petition alleging that Kennedy's biological son is abused and neglected based on being at risk in the family home due to the death of his foster brother. The Department of Children and Family Services was expected to take temporary custody of that child Tuesday evening, Rietz said.

Kennedy, 35, of the 400 block of East Belle Avenue, was charged two weeks ago with the first-degree murder of Daniel Lindholm-Wilkins, 7 weeks, a foster child he and his wife had since his birth. They were also acting as foster parents to Daniel's biological half-sister, age 2, Rietz said, and were intending to adopt her.

Daniel was declared brain dead at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana on April 23 after having been admitted April 17.

In testimony Tuesday before Difanis, Rantoul police investigator Tim Rivest said Kennedy called paramedics to his home about 5 p.m. April 17, reporting that Daniel was choking on his formula.

Rivest said paramedics and officers found Kennedy in the house with Daniel; Daniel's 2-year-old half-sister; and the Kennedys' biological son, age 3. Kennedy's wife, Theresa Kennedy, was at her job in Champaign, Rivest said.

Rivest said Carle doctors determined that Daniel had suffered traumatic brain injuries and broken ribs.

In an interview with Rivest and fellow detective Sgt. Justin Bouse, Kennedy said he tried to feed Daniel, and the baby began choking on the formula. He said he tried for about an hour to revive the unresponsive child and eventually called 911, performing chest compressions on the baby as instructed by the telecommunicator until help arrived.

Rivest said Kennedy initially offered no explanation as to how the infant may have suffered the injuries.

Later, he described the baby as "colicky" and "fussy" and said a week earlier, the two older children had knocked over Daniel's bassinet.

Kennedy also said that his 3-year-old son had hit the baby in the head with a metal toy truck the day before Daniel was taken to the hospital but Kennedy said he did not see that happen.

Rivest said that Carle doctors told him and Bouse that the injuries to Daniel "required an adult amount of force," could not have been caused by the toy truck, and happened no more than two hours prior to the call to 911.

Kennedy was released from the county jail Saturday after his wife posted $25,000 in cash. He had been there since his arrest April 24.

The couple were both in court for Tuesday's preliminary hearing. Kennedy is represented by Urbana attorney Baku Patel.

A shelter care hearing in the case of the biological child is set for today.

Rietz said earlier that both of the older children were examined in the wake of Daniel's death.

Neither had suffered any physical injuries.

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