The trial of two parents charged with murder for leaving their 4-year-old disabled son in a Ford Excursion for at least 17-hours in 2008 came to an emotional close with four hours of closing arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys.
A Clark County jury listened as prosecutors lashed out at Stanley and Colleen Rimer, stating, “Poor Jason Rimer baked to death” because his parents “abjectly failed to care for their children.”
Defense attorneys argued that what happened to Jason was a “mistake” and that the parents did their best under difficult circumstances to raise eight children.
Stanley and Colleen Rimer are charged with second-degree murder in the death of their son. They also face charges of child abuse and neglect and are accused of physically abusing five of their eight children.
The jury will continue deliberations today in the trial that has lasted for two weeks. If convicted, the defendants could face sentences of 10 years to life in prison.
Jason Rimer was left in the vehicle about 2 p.m. June 8, 2008, after returning home from church with his mother and several siblings. The temperature inside the vehicle was estimated to have reached 130 degrees on that 90-degree day.
Jason suffered from myotonic dystrophy, a genetic muscular disorder that crippled his body and mind. He was unable to unlock car doors. He died from heat stress, which could have taken three to five hours.
The boy’s father, Stanley Rimer, has maintained he was unaware that Jason had been locked in the car. He was ill that day and left church before the rest of his family. He spent the rest of the day in the master bedroom.
Colleen Rimer told Las Vegas police that she was the only person responsible for the disabled boy.
Prosecutors Mark DiGiacomo and David Stanton argued that the parents exhibited a pattern of neglect and abuse toward their children that was bound to lead to tragedy. During the trial, the jury heard testimony from the couple’s children who said the house was cluttered and often dirty. There was a lice problem in the home and the children were punished by their father who “paddled” them with a boat oar.
The children also were verbally abused, prosecutors said.
In a heated moment, referring to testimony from 17-year-old Quaylyn Rimer who said his father called him “devil,” DiGiacomo stared at Stanley Rimer and said, “If there was a devil in the house it certainly wasn’t Quaylyn.”
Stanton said the parents knew, or should have known, where Jason was.
Deputy Public Defender Tim O’Brien, who defended Stanley Rimer, said the father was not guilty because prosecutors had not shown that he had any knowledge that Jason was trapped in the vehicle.
O’Brien shifted blame for Jason’s death to Colleen Rimer, stating that Stanley Rimer had left the boy “in the care and custody of his mother. There was no evidence that any of Stan’s actions led to Jason’s death.”
O’Brien also reminded the jury that corporal punishment of children is legal as long as it is not excessive. O’Brien pointed to testimony from the children who said none of them suffered severe physical harm after a “paddling.”
Defense Attorney Michael Sanft, who represents Colleen Rimer, said what happened “was a mistake. It wasn’t criminal.”
Sanft said Colleen Rimer was doing the best she could as a mother, but was far from perfect. She suffers from the same genetic disorder as Jason and had bronchitis the day Jason died.
Sanft said Colleen Rimer never willfully neglected the children. She didn’t live a life of opulence as her children suffered.
“There were failings,” Sanft said. “I can’t say they were perfect parents. They did the best they could.”
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at email@example.com or 702-380-1039.