CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — The Lower Township man charged with aggravated manslaughter in the death of a 3-year-old North Wildwood boy appeared in court Thursday, wearing a protective suit.
Charles Kane Jr., 35, of the Villas section of Lower Township, made his first court appearance Thursday morning. Kane had not been indicted and did not enter a plea. After the court appearance his public defender, Scott Sherwood, said Kane would plead not guilty.
Kane was scheduled to appear in court for a bail reduction hearing set up before Elijah Joseph Ulbrich died. Ulbrich had been in a coma since Feb. 25, but he died on Wednesday afternoon.
Kane had been charged with aggravated assault, with bail set at $100,000. On Wednesday, he was told of a new charge of aggravated manslaughter with bail increased to $500,000. In light of the new charge, Sherwood withdrew the request for a bail review.
Kane “intentionally inflicted trauma to the child’s head,” according to a statement from Cape May County Prosecutor Robert Taylor and North Wildwood police Chief Robert Matteucci.
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Christina Ulbrich, Elijah’s mother, said she left Elijah with Kane to do laundry. Ulbrich said that when she arrived home at about 10:30 p.m., her son was unresponsive and his eyes were rolled back in his head.
Kane was brought into court wearing a dark green full-body suit that authorities said was to ensure his safety.
Cape May County Sheriff Gary Schaffer said Kane had been “on suicide watch,” but has been taken off it. Kane, sporting a beard that he did not have when he was arrested, said nothing in court.
Judge Kyran Connor notified Kane of the aggravated manslaughter charge and advised him of his rights.
“I’m required to inform Mr. Kane of his right to remain silent and any statement he would make is likely to be used against him,” Connor said.
Sherwood said he has been appointed to the case and would remain on it unless Kane hires a private attorney.
“His initial plea will be not guilty, but not until he’s indicted. He hasn’t been indicted yet,” Sherwood said.
Kane could face up to 20 years in prison for aggravated manslaughter, according to Taylor and Matteucci. He also faces one count of aggravated assault and one count of endangering the welfare of a minor, each of which can bring 10 years. Additional charges could be added pending an autopsy on the boy scheduled for today.
The state Division of Youth and Family Services has acknowledged it was involved in the case but cited confidentiality laws in not discussing details.
Contact Richard Degener: