WEST VALLEY, Utah (News4Utah) Prosecutors filed a motion to charge a 17-year-old as an adult in a disturbing child abuse homicide case in West Valley City Wednesday.
Investigators said the teenage suspect was in a romantic relationship with the victim’s mother and lived with the family when the abuse took place.
“It’s a tragic loss of life,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said.
The probable cause statement showed the teenage suspect routinely punched, kicked and beat his girlfriend’s young children with a coat hanger against their skin.
It allegedly happened while the mother was working and the suspect was watching the 21-month old, and his two and five-year-old siblings.
“There is absolutely no justification whatsoever to use any kind of physical force or any kind of violence at all with an infant or a child,” Gill said.
The baby was pronounced dead January 16th, after shortly after the suspect called police saying he was unresponsive.
Court documents show the child had likely been dead for several hours, even while the suspect took the baby to pick up a sibling at school. Documents show the suspect later admitted to throwing the child in the air, causing him to hit his head on the ceiling, wall and floor because the child wouldn’t be quiet.
“He indicated that he sometimes would lose his anger,” Gill said.
Doctors also allegedly found severe bruising and injuries on the two-year-old sibling.
“We never want to see a child die needlessly when abuse could have been reported first,” Gwen Knight said, Prevent Child Abuse Utah.
Advocates against child abuse say there are coping strategies for caregivers feeling overwhelmed.
“Do something different. Give a timeout. Get some counseling. Get some help. Get away from the situation if they’re abusing a child,” said Knight.
Police say the mother admitted to seeing the suspect punch the victim and saw injuries on her children.
It is mandatory for adults to report child abuse in Utah. Gill said he is looking at all parties involved for possible charges.
The suspect has been charged with first degree aggravated murder and two counts of second degree child abuse.
A judge will decide if he should be tried in adult court on January 30.