A 36-year-old Glenwood man found guilty of first-degree murder in the July 2011 death of his 5-month-old son has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Jason Curtis’ sentence was handed down Friday in Council Bluffs by District Court Judge Mark Eveloff after a motion for a new trial made by Curtis’ attorney Mike Williams was denied.
Jackson Curtis died July 14, 2011, after being transported by rescue squad from a Glenwood residence to a Council Bluffs hospital. An autopsy by Deputy Iowa State Medical Examiner Dr. Dennis Klein determined the child’s death was caused by injuries to his head. The death was ruled a homicide.
A Pottawattamie County jury found Curtis guilty of the first-degree murder charge in February after several days of conflicting testimony.
During the trial, the defense and prosecution teams both presented medical evidence and testimony from expert witnesses in the medical profession to argue their sides of the case. The defense suggested a pre-existing medical condition could have contributed to Jackson’s death, noting the child suffered from ongoing health issues from the day of his birth and failed to demonstrate normal developmental awareness. After hearing all testimony in the case, jurors deliberated for nearly seven hours before reaching their verdict. The trial took place in Council Bluffs because a member of the staff in the Mills County Attorney’s Office had represented Curtis in a prior case.
According to court documents, Curtis and his son were alone in a home shared with Chrissy Vyborny and their children on the morning of July 14, 2011, when he called the Mills County 911 center, stating his son Jackson was not, or was barely breathing. Jackson was found unresponsive with no heartbeat or pulse and his skin a bluish color by first responders from Glenwood Fire and Rescue.
Jackson was taken to Jennie Edmundson Hospital in Council Bluffs where he was pronounced dead. While at the hospital, Curtis stated Jackson was being treated for an upper respiratory infection and the medication was causing a negative reaction. He said he gave Jackson his medication that morning, fed him and laid him down for a nap. When he went to check on his son some time later, he said he found Jackson barely or not breathing at all.
After Jackson was pronounced dead, a CT scan was taken of his head, and doctors identified areas of hemorrhaging on the outside of his brain consistent with injuries of child abuse delivered by an adult.
Curtis is expected to appeal his case to an appellate court.