Benton, Ill. —
Jonathan R. Knepp, 28, of rural Benton was in Franklin County court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing on charges that he allegedly violently shook a 6-week-old female child on March 15.
Investigators arrested the married father of two in a rural Benton home on March 29, according to court documents. Knepp has been charged with aggravated battery of a child, a Class X felony. Bond was set at $300,000.
Deputies responded to a rural Benton address at 4:09 p.m. on March 15 to assist an ambulance crew responding to a medical call involving the six-week-old girl. The infant was initially taken to the Franklin Hospital and later transferred to a St. Louis hospital where medical personnel discovered the child had suffered a brain injury from suspected trauma.
Due to the suspicious injury, a criminal investigation was immediately initiated. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office received investigative report from the Benton Police Department, the Illinois Child Death Task Force and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
According to an affidavit of assets and liabilities filed, Knepp has been employed as a correctional officer for three years with the Illinois Department of Corrections and also served in the Illinois National Guard.
He made his first court appearance via video from the Franklin County Jail on April 2, the same day an arrest warrant was filed. Knepp has hired Aaron Hopkins as his attorney.
During his court appearance, an entry of appearance and a motion for discovery were filed.
Knepp remains in the Franklin County Jail. According to court documents, he is to have no contact with two people involved in the case and not to go within 500 feet of the rural Benton address.
The child has been released from the hospital and is in the care of family members.
Knepp is due back in court for a pre-trial hearing on June 7. A July 10 jury trial date has been set.