Crime - Sacto 911

Judge delays ruling on whether Chico couple will stand trial in son’s death

A Butte County judge heard arguments but made no ruling Monday on whether a Chico couple will stand trial next year on charges they killed their 2-year-old adopted son.

Superior Court Judge Barbara L. Roberts said she would issue a written decision in the next few weeks in the criminal case against Dr. James “Peter” Yhip, a 47-year-old cardiologist, and his wife, Edelyn, 44, a registered nurse. Each is charged with murder and felony child endangerment in connection with the death of Benjamin Yhip on April 19, 2012.

The case, featured in Sunday’s Sacramento Bee, is set for trial next April. However, the couple’s defense attorneys are now arguing that the case should be dismissed because the matter already was decided in dependency court earlier this year when a judge ruled in the couple’s favor, returning the surviving childen to their care.

The defense maintains that the Yhips were wrongly accused after a Sacramento pediatrician and a Butte County forensic pathologist misinterpreted the medical findings by relying on what it says is outmoded, faulty science surrounding the diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome.

Prosecutors contend the little boy died of “abusive head trauma,” after being struck or shaken. Defense experts say the child died of complications from a massive infection.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee