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25-year-old Willmar man pleads not guilty in shaken baby case

WILLMAR -- Travis Dean Ryks, 25, of Willmar, pleaded not guilty Monday to a first-degree assault charge for allegedly shaking a 2-month-old baby and inflicting a traumatic brain injury.

The plea was entered during an omnibus hearing in Kandiyohi County District Court. During the hearing, Scott Belfry, Ryks' public defense attorney, argued that there is no probable cause for the first-degree charge, which is based on great bodily harm. The child, now almost 7 months old, is in foster care and is doing well, Belfry argued before District Judge Donald M. Spilseth.

Connie Crowell, first assistant county attorney and the prosecutor in the case, argued that the boy has no eyesight, requires physical and occupational therapy, has deficits in ability to use the left side of his body and requires assistance with feeding.

Crowell also noted that recent electroencephalography test showed the boy's brain continues to be abnormal with seizures that can be measured by the EEG test.

Spilseth set a deadline of July 9 for the attorneys to file legal briefs and responses. After that date, the judge will take the case under advisement.

During the hearing, Belfry also noted that his client is seeking a jury trial. Belfry's motion that Ryks' bail be reduced, from $80,000 unconditional and $5,000 cash with conditions, was denied.

According to the complaint, doctors involved in the child's medical treatment told investigators that the child's injuries were not accidental and that the injuries could not have been suffered in a fall off a bed, which Ryks said happened while he was caring for the child on Feb. 1.

He allegedly told the child's mother that he found the child lying face down on the floor, having fallen off a bed while Ryks was changing his diaper and ran to another room to get baby wipes. The mother arrived home and found that the infant "seemed kind of out of it, like not really that responsive."

Later on Feb. 1, the child began twitching and was taken to Rice Memorial Hospital, where he had a seizure and a CAT scan found blood on his brain. The baby was transferred to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.

Ryks allegedly admitted to the child's mother than he'd shaken the baby.

An HCMC doctor told investigators the child would most likely survive but "will most likely not be normal," according to the complaint.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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