CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — Lower Township resident Charles Richard Kane Jr. was indicted Tuesday on murder charges in connection with the March 17 death of 3-year-old Elijah Joseph Ulbrich.

Christina Ulbrich, the boy’s mother, cried Tuesday night as she spoke about the news.

“I was so happy I cried, I guess,” she said of learning that a Cape May County grand jury opted to charge Kane with first-degree murder. “We’re just one more step closer to (Elijah’s) justice.”

Elijah, who had been in a coma in the three weeks prior to his death, died at Cooper University Hospital in Camden after he was beaten Feb. 25, authorities said. An autopsy found he died from blunt head trauma or complications from suffering blunt head trauma.

Kane had been baby-sitting the child at Christina Ulbrich’s North Wildwood home that day. She now lives with an aunt in West Wildwood.

“Kane was (a friend) of my friends. He watched all of my friends’ children. At the time, he was helping me out,” she said as she wiped tears from her eyes.

She and her husband, Richard, were separated at the time and she left Kane to baby-sit while she had gone out to do laundry and pick up some things from Wawa.

First Assistant Prosecutor J. David Meyer said Tuesday that the boy suffered a subdermal hematoma that required surgery after he was struck in the head.

Kane, 35, a Navy veteran from Lower Township, is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly inflicting the injuries that resulted in the young boy's death.

He is also charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, including one count that charges Kane with "willfully failing to obtain timely emergency medical treatment for Elijah Ulbrich for the serious bodily injury inflicted by Charles Richard Kane, Jr."

Kane, who remained Tuesday in the Cape May County jail in lieu of $500,000 bail, had been expected to plead guilty to aggravated manslaughter and accept a 20-year prison term Oct. 26, but that day Kane opted not to accept the plea agreement.

At the time, attorney Scott Sherwood said, "He's maintaining he's not guilty at this point."

Sherwood had proposed that Kane serve an 18-year prison term in exchange for a guilty plea, but Kane chose not to move ahead with the plea agreement regardless of the possible term.

The murder charge carries a penalty of 30 years to life in prison, Meyer said. Each of the endangering counts also comes with a penalty of five to 10 years in prison.

Elijah's father, Richard Ulbrich, said Tuesday afternoon that Nov. 1 would have marked his son’s fourth birthday.

“It’s going to court and in a way we are happy. We don’t really want to see him (in court), but it’s for Elijah,” Ulbrich said.

He said he and his wife had opposed any plea agreement and instead hoped Ulbrich would receive a life sentence.

“A life sentence would be a start,” Christina Ulbrich said.

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