There was a lot of tension in the courtroom when the man charged in the hit-and-run motorcycle crash that injured a 4-year-old boy made his first appearance in front of a judge on Tuesday.
Ernest Jonas is facing two felony counts of criminal vehicular operation in the Saturday crash that left Tyrell Baymon with a fractured skull. He is still in critical condition, and family members told FOX 9 News he took a turn for the worse on Tuesday.
"His heart rate and blood pressure are fluctuating up and down," said Baymon's aunt, Gloria Phillips. "They just took him right now for more brain scans and testing -- not really looking too good."
Jonas told investigators he fled the scene of the crash because he was scared after people began shouting at him and running toward the scene. On Tuesday, his family and loved ones tried to apologize to the victim's family -- but they weren't accepting it.
"His family did come over and send an apology, but it's a fake apology," said Andre Scroggins, the victim's uncle.
Baymon's family has called Jonas reckless and a heartless coward for fleeing, and the it wasn't pretty when the victim's family met the defendant's.
"People out here are making him feel like he's a monster," said Ena Milligan, the defendant's sister. "He's not a monster. He loved kids. It just happened at the wrong time."
After the court adjourned, the drama continued to unfold outside the Ramsey County Law Enforcement center, where about half a dozen deputies separated the two families.
"For him to leave the scene, you had to make him leave the scene," said Nature Teague, Jonas's girlfriend. "He wasn't just going to hit a baby and run. I have a 7-year-old. I know him. He wouldn't just leave the scene. You guys scared him away, so he had to go."
Scroggins fired back.
"He's scared because he may go to prison," he said. "We're hurting -- in sorrow -- because our nephew is struggling for his life."
Baymon's aunt, Gloria Phillips, says the family also doubts that Jonas was planning to surrender to police as his friends have claimed.
"He didn't turn himself in. He was way out in Shakopee," she said. "No intention of turning himself in -- don't believe that."
Teague told FOX 9 News she knows Jonas did the wrong thing by leaving the scene, but she says several neighbors were chasing and yelling at him. Even though she called and urged him to turn himself in, she said she now fears for her own safety because she lives just blocks away from where Baymon was struck.
"They told me I need to move off the block -- and I can't go home because people down the street won't let me," she said.
The court hearing ended with tears, and both families were forced to exit separately. In the end, Baymon's family ended up waiting until the other family drove away to leave the courthouse themselves.
A fund has been established to help Baymon, and donations can be made to account No. 697-834-2720 in care of Tyrell Baymon at any Wells Fargo bank.