A Clallam County corrections deputy helps Ramona Ward to her seat during a hearing in Port Angeles on Monday. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)

A Clallam County corrections deputy helps Ramona Ward to her seat during a hearing in Port Angeles on Monday. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)

Forks woman pleads not guilty to child’s murder

PORT ANGELES — A Forks woman charged in the death of a 2-year-old boy has pleaded not guilty to homicide by abuse and second-degree murder.

Ramona Jean Ward was arraigned Tuesday in Clallam County Superior Court.

Her three-week trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 18.

Ward, 44, is accused of physically abusing a toddler who was in her care over the course of several weeks.

The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said Ward phoned 9-1-1 to report that the boy was unresponsive and not breathing Nov. 9.

The boy was airlifted from Forks Community Hospital to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he died Nov. 11.

Medical staff told investigators that the child had severe head trauma and other injuries consistent with torture over a period of time, according to the affidavit for probable cause.

Ward told investigators she had been abusing the boy for about two months because “she was frustrated” with the child, Sheriff’s Detective Brian Knutson wrote in an arrest report.

Investigators found blood in Ward’s residence on the 1100 block of Calawah Way that “appeared to be consistent with extensive physical abuse extended over a period of time,” Knutson wrote.

Ward was related to the victim but was not his mother, Chief Criminal Sheriff’s Deputy Brian King has said.

Ward is being held in the Clallam County jail on $300,000 bail.

Clallam County Superior Court Judge Christopher Melly on Tuesday granted a request for domestic violence no-contact orders preventing Ward for having contact with six other children who live in the home where Ward was staying, according to the minutes of the hearing.

Melly denied Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin’s request to raise Ward’s bail to $350,000, court papers said.

A pretrial status conference was scheduled for Dec. 16.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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