Crime - Sacto 911

Man held in 5-year-old’s death missed court hearing last week

A man jailed in connection with the death of a 5-year-old boy has a 20-year arrest record and failed to show last week for his latest court appearance, according to Sacramento Superior Court records.

Adam Jay Caldwell, 39, and the boy’s mother, Jessica Diane Prater, 32, were arrested early Friday on suspicion of felony child abuse causing death, torture and conspiracy. Caldwell, Prater’s boyfriend, is not the biological father of the boy.

Sacramento County District Attorney’s prosecutors continue to review the case, DA’s officials said Friday. Prater is scheduled to be arraigned in her child’s death Monday in Sacramento Superior Court. Caldwell’s appearance is slated for Tuesday. Both are being held without bail at Sacramento County Main Jail.

Deputies said that dispatchers received a 911 call about 1:45 p.m. Thursday about a child who had drowned at a home in the 8700 block of Pershing Avenue in Orangevale. When fire department personnel arrived at the home, they found the child unresponsive. Prater and Caldwell were at the home at the time of the incident.

The child was then transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. The boy’s injuries could not be attributed to drowning, authorities said.

It was unknown Friday whether there was a history of abuse involving the 5-year-old. The Sacramento Bee on Friday filed a request with Sacramento County child protective services officials for any records regarding the child.

Sacramento Superior Court records show Caldwell has a of largely misdemeanor cases on file dating back to 1996, including arrests for drug possession, auto theft and driving under the influence.

Caldwell, who has also gone by aliases Andrew Glen Caldwell and Andrew Grant Caldwell, according to court filings, was slated to appear May 27 in Sacramento Superior Court for further proceedings in a drug possession case, but was a no-show at that hearing, according to court records.

David Harp, who lives directly across the street from Caldwell, said Caldwell was known for being loud and aggressive with his kids. Caldwell has three biological children, Harp said.

“He was just an individual I knew to stay away from,” Harp said. “You’d see him yelling, screaming, swearing at his kids all the time. He’d get drunk periodically.”

Harp cited an incident from two years ago, in which he witnessed Caldwell swearing at his children in the front yard, as he raced up and down the street.

Aaron Cochran, who also lives across the street said he watched an ambulance and fire truck pull up outside of Caldwell’s house at 2 p.m on Thursday. A young boy was placed into a gurney and given chest compressions, Cochran said, and then loaded into the ambulance.

Cochran acknowledged that Caldwell was sometimes aggressive with his kids, but said he was shocked by yesterday’s incident. Cochran said Caldwell and his children had always been “super nice, good people.” Cochran recalled having Caldwell and his kids over to watch football games and drink a beer.

“He has a couple of teenage kids and they get into yelling matches now and again, but what happened yesterday I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined,” Cochran said.

On Thursday evening, Caldwell’s friend picked up Caldwell’s three children from the house, Cochran said. Around midnight, Sacramento Country Animal Control came for Caldwell’s dogs, a golden retriever and a pit bull, said Kim Nava, public information officer for Sacramento County Animal Care. Both dogs were in “fine condition” when Animal Care found them. Later Friday morning, Caldwell’s family arrived at the house to clean the property, remove some items from the home, and put up several “no trespassing signs” outside, according to Cochran.

Cochran and Harp, a recently retired special needs teacher, said they believed the 5-year-old boy to be autistic.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews

The Bee’s Darrell Smith contributed to this report.