WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. – A Ludlow man was charged with second-degree murder Monday afternoon in connection with the January death of an 11-month-old boy.

Tyler Pollender-Savery, 23, pleaded not guilty to killing 11-month-old Karsen Rickert. He is being held without bail. 

Rickert died of asphyxia due to strangulation, according to court documents. Pollender-Savery and Abigail Wood, the infant’s mother, were the only people in the house at the time.

According to the documents, Wood woke up at just before 7 am January 11, 2018, to see Pollender-Savery leaving Rickert’s bedroom. She got up and while changing the infant’s diaper, noticed he wasn’t breathing.

After a lengthy investigation, police said Pollender-Savery either strangled or smothered Rickert. At Monday’s arraignment, Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill argued that it would be dangerous to release Pollender-Savery on bail.

He said the investigation turned up an allegation that Pollender-Savery once “slammed a cat into a bathtub in New York, breaking its spine.”

Cahill said Wood told police that Pollender-Savery uses alcohol and cocaine “to excess.”

And, he added, “When the defendant came into police custody today, he had a loaded handgun in his vehicle.”

Steven J. Howard, Pollender-Savery’s attorney, said investigators haven’t heard the whole story, and he said it’s not unusual for someone in Vermont to be in possession of a firearm.

“It doesn’t indicate that he is prone to violence, it indicates that he hunts,” Howard said.

To that, Cahill replied, “I have yet to meet somebody who hunts here with a handgun.”

In arguing for Pollender-Savery’s release on bail, Howard said the only evidence police have is from Wood, who he said was changing Rickert’s diaper before the infant was discovered unresponsive.

In denying bail to Pollender-Savery, Judge Elizabeth Mann said the allegations of threats to other people involved in the case were “of great concern.” ,

“We also have a number of threats that were made in this case by the defendant towards others.”

A status conference for the case is scheduled for January 15.