BOISE -- The two people accused of murdering 8-year-old Robert Manwill, whose body was found floating in a canal in 2009, appeared in court Thursday.
Robert's mother, Melissa Jenkins, and her boyfriend, Daniel Ehrlick are both charged with first-degree murder.Ehrlick is also charged with failure to report a death to law enforcement, while Jenkins is charged as an accessory.
While both defendants were in the courtroom -- most of the attention centered around Robert's mom.
Prosecutors and defense attorney's argued whether Melissa Jenkins should take the stand to testify against Daniel Ehrlick in the murder of 8-year-old Robert Manwill.
Jenkins' attorney does not want her to testify. He says she is a chronic liar -- which could get her in trouble on the stand.
Judge, I don't think there is anyway on earth that this woman is not going to be subject to a perjury charge if she doesn't go down the row and say A, B and C --yep, I'm going to parrot what the state wants me to say, said Rob Chastain, Melissa Jenkins' Attorney in court.
Jenkins is also facing charges of murder, a charge she's pleaded not guilty to.
Ada County prosecutors argue her testimony is necessary in this case.
One of the specific areas we're asking the court to order her to testify about is about Robert Manwill's physical condition on the morning of the 24th. And as we've indicated Ms. Jenkins told law enforcement in an interview that on the morning of July 24th of 2009 -- the morning on the day he was reported missing, Robert was complaining of head pain. stomach pain back pain those types of things. said Ada County Prosecutor Dan Dinger.
That information about Robert's condition the day he was reported missing was described in court documents obtained by KTVB.
In those documents, it is revealed that Jenkins told the grand jury, Robert Manwill was having a hard time walking, stumbling down the hall of their apartment, and that he was sleepy.
She acknowledged that she knew her son should have had medical attention that morning.
Jenkins also acknowledged that on at least one occasion, Robert complained to her that her boyfriend, Daniel Ehrlick, had hurt him by dropping a knee on his stomach.
Ehrlick admitted that on at least one occasion he did hold Robert Manwill in place during a punishment, by putting his knees on his abdomen and using his weight (about 260-270 pounds) to hold him in place.
The judge will now decide on whether Jenkins will have to testify against Ehrlick.
Melissa Jenkins and Daniel Ehrlick are scheduled to be back in court later this month.
The indictment handed down last year by an Ada County Grand Jury accuses that the pair tortured and murdered Manwill by inflicting extreme or prolonged pain with intent to cause suffering or to satisfy some sadistic inclination by inflicting repeated acts of blunt force trauma or abdomen and/or head with his hands, knees, fists and/or feet.
The indictment also accuses Ehrlick and Jenkins of lying to police about the events surrounding Manwill's death
The boy was reported missing to police on July 24th, 2009. The community quickly responded, with posters featuring the boy's face popping up all over town, and volunteers spending spare time searching for the child.
The case started to rapidly change on Thursday July 30, 2009. That night, police began searching the Jenkins' Boise Bench apartment, removing materials from the home, including cabinets, computers and more. Police also towed a vehicle from the complex.
Judge Deborah Bail asked both Jenkins and Ehrlick at their arraignment whether they intended to plead guilty or not guilty. The judge outlined the rights and loss of rights tied to each choice.
Pleas were not entered in the case, instead were delayed so that the newly appointed attorney in the case could get up to speed.
Jenkins has a past criminal history that involves hurting children.
On October 19, 2008, police said a baby boy had been injured. Jenkins was arrested and charged with felony injury to a child. The child suffered serious head injuries and was taken to a local hospital for treatment. The child was taken into the custody of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
Court documents say Jenkins hit her 9-month-old son's head on a surface. The infant suffered a fractured skull that caused not only physical pain, but mental suffering as well.
Since Manwill's disappearance and before his arrest, Ehrlick had been in and out of the hospital for unspecified treatments, according to family.