The alleged killer of 2-year-old Sophia O’Neill will challenge Hennepin County’s attempt to have him stand trial as an adult.
Cody Feran-Baum, 17, made a short appearance in court Thursday, where his attorney told Judge Nancy Brasel that he will challenge the county to keep his client’s case in juvenile court. A court date was set for Sept. 8.
The judge briefly mentioned that the teen’s psychological evaluation is complete, but didn’t offer further details. Feran-Baum didn’t speak during the hearing.
Feran-Baum was charged with second-degree murder in June in the death of Sophia, his girlfriend’s daughter. He told police that when she wouldn’t stop crying, he kicked her in the back and stomped on her stomach, an attack that the medical examiner said tore organs in half and broke ribs. He had been babysitting the girl in the south Minneapolis home of his grandmother.
Before Sophia’s death, county child protection had several contacts with the girl’s family and Feran-Baum’s relatives. Sunshine Smith, Sophia’s mother, received parenting counseling several times when she was born. Feran-Baum and Smith had been dating for about a year.
The county also did a thorough assessment of Feran-Baum’s grandmother, Barbara Whetstone, when she became the teen’s legal guardian in September 2013.
Feran-Baum’s unstable home life led to drug use and poor school attendance, and he was caught at school with a knife, the documents say. Social workers later said the teen had made great progress and spoke proudly of being clean and sober.
Kristina Baum, Feran-Baum’s mother, Whetstone and several of Feran-Baum’s cousins attended Thursday’s hearing. Whetstone decline to comment afterward.
Max O’Neill, 22, Sophia’s father, spoke briefly after the hearing. He said his daughter’s death has changed him forever and that nothing can make it right.
“There are lots of things I want to say,” he said. “But now isn’t the right time.”