Katie Petrie, 35, of DeKalb
First Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Klein (far right) speaks with defense attorney Peter Buh, while Jennifer Newhouse, 37, testifies during the trial of Katie Petrie (far-left), Tuesday afternoon at the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore.
SYCAMORE – Ryker Newhouse, then
6 months old, wriggled and giggled, as his mother tickled him, and DeKalb County Judge Philip Montgomery looked on.
The video shown in a DeKalb County courtroom was recorded Dec. 13, 2015, about 36 hours before police say Katie Petrie, 35, of the 900 block of 14th Street in DeKalb, inflicted injuries on the infant that resulted in permanent brain damage.
Petrie, who was statuesque and never so much as turned her head Tuesday afternoon, is on trial for two forms of aggravated battery to a child, the most serious of which is punishable by six to 30 years in prison.
Ryker’s mom, Jennifer Newhouse, 37, a special education teacher with DeKalb School District 428, said Ryker’s life will never be the same.
“Ryker has significant brain damage, which has affected his development,” she said. “He’s about a year behind in speech development.”
She added that his vision will likely always be impaired, and that he has limited use of his right arm.
“He also has some behavioral issues we’re working through, as well,” Newhouse said.
Petrie’s lawyer, Peter Buh, is pushing that Ryker was sick before he landed in Petrie’s care. He declined to comment after the first day of the trial.
Jennifer Newhouse vividly recalled the day she got the call from Petrie, while she was at work at Clinton Rosette Middle School.
“Se told me I needed to hurry up, come over, and that something was seriously wrong with Ryker – that she thought he was having a seizure,” Newhouse testified.
She told Petrie to call 911, called her husband, and sped off to the day care residence at 130 W. Amber Ave.
Newhouse said Ryker was in the ambulance by the time she arrived, and she was barred from seeing him, and that Petrie was in the house, along with officers.
Newhouse said she was allowed into the house, where she found her son’s clothes.
“They had vomit on them,” she testified, as Petrie used a tissue to dry a tear, still refusing to even subtly turn her head.
Despite what’s unfolded, Ryker’s father, Eric Newhouse, had only one word to describe his son.
“Perfect,” he said, as he broke down on the witness stand.
The Newhouses have had to resort to day care because while mom works for the school district, dad drives a bus for the Kaneland school district and works a full-time job at Nestle, State’s Attorney Rick Amato said.
Police said in court records they responded to a 911 report of a 6-month-old having a seizure, after which Ryker was taken to Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital and later flown to Rockford Memorial Hospital.
Jennifer Newhouse testified that Ryker was later transferred to a Chicago hospital for therapy.
Petrie, orginally jailed on $500,000 bond was allowed to post $5,000 bail to be releaed from jail after Montgomery agreed in February 2016 to reduce her bond to $50,000.
Amato said the prosecution will most likely rest Thursday, after which he’s not sure whether the defense will call any witnesses, including a long-debated expert witness.