TAMPA — Aedyn Agminalis was awake and alert when a child welfare worker left the toddler's home at 7:50 p.m. on Dec. 7 after a routine visit, a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office detective testified in court Friday.
Just seven minutes later, Aedyn's foster family called 911 to report that the 17-month-old boy had slumped forward and was unresponsive. He was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital for Children, where doctors found head injuries along with hemorrhaging of his brain and spinal column.
They could find no brain activity. Aedyn died a few days later when doctors turned off his life support. He had been on track to be placed with adoptive parents within a few weeks.
Sheriff's Detective Jennifer Sands told a court Friday the brain and neck injuries would have rendered Aedyn unconscious as soon as he received them, leaving him unable to support his neck.
They led to his death, Sands said, and must have occurred during those seven minutes — while he was in the care of foster mom Latamara Stackhouse Flythe.
Flythe, 43, was arrested Feb. 20 on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse.
The testimony came during a hearing on whether Flythe should remain in jail until her trial. Judge Margaret Taylor denied the state's motion to keep her there and, instead, set bail at $100,000.
Flythe denies harming the boy, her arrest warrant states. She told detectives that after the child welfare visitor left, she fed Aedyn. A short time later, his head tilted to the side and he became unresponsive.
Friday's hearing provided some of the first details about Aedyn's medical condition when he died.
Sands, the detective, testified that the boy had bruising on his forehead close to his hairline and similar marks above his left eyebrow and the back of his neck.
An autopsy found retinal hemorrhaging behind both eyes and in the optic nerve sheath, which doctors told Sands is typically the result of a great amount of force. Bruising around the boy's elbow and thigh was also noted.
Flythe, dressed in an orange prison jacket, remained impassive throughout the hearing.
A mother of two, she starting serving as a foster parent in June and also was caring for another foster child at the time of Aedyn's death. The conditions of her bail prevent her from serving as a foster parent to other children and from having contact with children except her own
She works as a marketing manager for Children's Home Network, a care agency subcontracted by Eckerd Kids to recruit, license and support foster parents. Her application to become a foster parent was handled by A Door of Hope, another Eckerd subcontractor.
Caring for Aedyn was not an easy job. He was diagnosed as developmentally delayed after being taken into care and was fitted with a feeding tube in November because of concerns about his weight.
Just hours before the injury that took his life, he had been discharged from the hospital after a choking incident. Video surveillance of him leaving the hospital three days later shows he was supporting his own head, Sands said.
In another development in the case, Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies arrested Aedyn's biological parents on charges of child neglect late Thursday at their Brandon apartment.
The charges against Brynn Agminalis, 23, and Artha Agminalis, 27, arise from the care and feeding of their son before he was placed in state custody in September.
According to an affidavit in their arrests, Aedyn was taken to the hospital after he was placed in state custody and was diagnosed as failing to thrive — from neglect and from a condition known as Flat Head Syndrome from lying too long on one side.
During a three-month period from June through September, the parents left Aedyn for hours in his bedroom with feces on the walls, crib, carpets and changing table, the affidavit states. He slept in a crib with fecal matter on the bedding. They fed him only baby food mixed with water.
Artha Agminalis, the biological mother, told the Tampa Bay Times in December that the child was in no danger and that she planned to steam-clean the carpet that night. She and her husband had been unable to get the boy to eat solid food and he frequently took his diaper off and defecated on the floor, she said.
The couple had been talking about placing their son in adoption and asked that he be taken into foster care, in part because they felt a foster parent would help him adjust to solid food.
Contact Christopher O'Donnell at [email protected] or (813) 226-3446. Follow @codonnell_Times.