Eudora woman convicted of baby’s murder seeking new trial; sentencing delayed

photo by: Sara Shepherd

Carrody M. Buchhorn, second from right, appears with her legal team on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, in Douglas County District Court. Buchhorn, convicted of second-degree murder in the 2016 death of 9-month-old Oliver Ortiz at a Eudora home day care, was scheduled to be sentenced but the hearing was delayed. Attorneys William Skepnek, right, and Kevin Babbit, left, are filing post-trial motions on her behalf. Attorneys Paul Morrison and Veronica Dersch, second and third from left, who represented her during July's trial, withdrew.

As it was during Carrody M. Buchhorn’s recent murder trial, the courtroom was nearly full for her sentencing hearing on Friday.

But her sentencing did not happen as scheduled.

Instead, Buchhorn, 44, of Eudora, has a new legal team that is trying to get her a new trial.

Douglas County District Court Judge Sally Pokorny rescheduled Buchhorn’s sentencing for Oct. 18 to allow time for her new attorneys to file their motion for a new trial and the state to file its response.

“There are serious issues that we think the court is going to need to consider,” said attorney William Skepnek, who is now representing Buchhorn along with Kevin Babbit.

The attorneys who represented her during the trial, Paul Morrison and Veronica Dersch, withdrew from the case on Friday.

On July 26 — following an emotional week-and-a-half-long trial and 16 hours of deliberation — a jury convicted Buchhorn of second-degree murder for unintentionally but recklessly killing 9-month-old Oliver “Ollie” Ortiz, of Eudora.

Oliver became unresponsive the afternoon of Sept. 29, 2016, at Sunshine Kids Group Daycare Home, 1307 Chestnut Lane in Eudora, where Buchhorn worked. In April 2017, Buchhorn was charged with first-degree murder.

photo by: Contributed photo

Oliver Ortiz

The trial hinged on what caused Oliver’s death, when it occurred and who was with him at that time, who the jury found was Buchhorn.

The coroner ruled Oliver’s death a homicide caused by blunt force trauma to the head. He testified that Oliver had a fractured skull caused by an incident forceful enough — not a drop, fall or the actions of another child — to render him unresponsive right away and, without intervention, dead within minutes.

Buchhorn’s defense team disputed the cause and timing of Oliver’s death, citing testimony by a forensic pathologist they hired to review the local autopsy findings. They argued that Oliver’s head injury could have been up to a week old.

Buchhorn’s new attorneys signed on about three weeks ago to “assist in the filing of post-trial motions and, if necessary, to prosecute an appeal,” they wrote in a filing requesting more time before sentencing.

Skepnek and Babbit said they have “contacted, interviewed and retained expert witnesses, and have spent extensive time developing expert testimony” to prepare the brief they intend to file.

At the Oct. 18 hearing, the judge is expected to consider the motion for a new trial and, if it’s denied, proceed with sentencing Buchhorn the same day.

Since her conviction, Buchhorn has been in jail without bond. Before that she was on house arrest.

Contact Journal-World public safety reporter Sara Shepherd

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