Mother charged in infant’s death

Change delays father's hearing

A preliminary hearing for a man charged with the murder of his 5-month-old daughter was delayed Friday when the case took a new twist.

The girl’s mother was charged Thursday as an accomplice in the death.

Brandi Mae Hendrickson, 24, Lawrence, is accused of aggravated endangering of a child in the death of her daughter, Risha Lafferty, in October 2005. Hendrickson is free on her own recognizance and has been ordered to appear for a preliminary hearing Jan. 26 in Douglas County District Court.

The girl’s father, Jay D. Decker, 26, was arrested and charged in October with first-degree murder. He is accused of killing the baby by child abuse. Decker’s preliminary hearing was set for Friday before Judge Paula Martin, but prosecutors requested a continuance because of a “problem with a witness.” The witness wasn’t identified, but Hendrickson was likely to be one of those witnesses.

Dist. Atty. Charles Branson said later that Hendrickson was potentially a witness but the charge against her changed her availability as a witness.

A new hearing was tentatively scheduled for Feb. 17 or March 10. Meanwhile, Decker remains in jail on $250,000 bond. Hendrickson and Decker are not married.

On the morning of Oct. 14, 2005, Lawrence Police and emergency medical crews were called to Decker’s apartment at Edgewood Homes, 1600 Haskell Ave. Decker was holding the unresponsive baby in his arms when they arrived, a police spokesman said at the time. Efforts to revive the girl failed.

An autopsy later showed the girl died from physical abuse.

Branson declined to say much about the allegations against Hendrickson.

He did note that the charge against her states that Hendrickson “intentionally and recklessly” caused Risha Lafferty to be placed in a situation in which the child’s life or health could be endangered between Oct. 1 and Oct. 14. Prosecutors think Hendrickson knew abuse was taking place, Branson said.