Mo. Couple Charged With Murder In Toddler's Death

Published February 18, 2012 12:18AM (EST)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A central Missouri mother and her boyfriend were charged Friday in the fatal beating of a toddler whose injuries initially were blamed on a hit-and-run.

Morgan County online court records show that 21-year-old Thomas Presley and 25-year-old Jamie Ann Litton — both of Stover — face one count of second-degree murder in the death of 3-year-old Blake Litton. Litton also faces two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

"It was bad, bad," said Morgan County Sheriff Jim Petty. "The car never touched him. He was assaulted at the home. He basically beat (Blake) to death is what we are alleging because he pooped in his pants and (Presley) hit him and he got out of control."

Petty said Presley called 911 Thursday morning to report that the boy had been struck by a hit-and-run driver along Missouri 135, about 100 miles southeast of Kansas City. Presley said that he was headed to see his brother in a nearby town and that he and the boy got out of the vehicle to use the bathroom, Petty said.

Blake was rushed to a Sedalia hospital where he later was pronounced dead. Meanwhile, Petty said the deputy was immediately suspicious of hit-and-run story.

"It just didn't quite add up, the things he said and the questions that were asked so we started probing into it and what had happened so forth," Petty said. "It snowballed into a homicide investigation pretty quick. He has implicated himself in assaulting the boy at the home and fabricated the story so he wouldn't be arrested."

Presley and Litton were both jailed on $100,000 bonds. No attorney is listed for either person in online court records. A worker at public defender Karie Comstock's office said Comstock, who represented Presley in an earlier harassment case, had no comment. When asked whether Comstock was representing Presley in the murder case, the worker reiterated that Comstock had no comment and hung up.

According to the probable cause statement, which was obtained by KMIZ-TV and provided to The Associated Press, Presley told authorities that he sent a text message to Litton while she was working as a certified nurse assistant at the Golden Age Living Center and told her he "lost it" and thought he had beaten her son to the point of paralysis. Litton said Presley told her the boy needed to go to the emergency room but he couldn't take him because he would go to prison for the "rest of his life," according to the court documents.

Litton said she asked her supervisor if she could leave because of an issue with her son but was told "no." Litton didn't leave work or tell anyone about the cause of her son's injuries.

Several hours later, Presley took the boy and his younger sister, also 3, to Litton's work, according to the probable cause statement. Presley said he then told Litton that he was going to fake a car accident. Litton, however, told authorities she thought Presley was taking the boy to the emergency room.

Litton said she and Presley were crying but that her son was "peaceful in his booster seat." She found that he had a weak pulse and described his breathing as weak. Litton said that before returning to work, she yelled her son's name but that he didn't respond, the court document said.

Litton said the next text she received was from Presley, stating that the boy had been struck by a car, according to the probable cause statement.

Later, Litton's daughter was examined and authorities determined she had a broken wrist and extensive bruising, court records said. The girl blamed the injuries, which authorities estimated were at least one week old, on her "daddy." During an interview, the girl said Presley punched her brother because he "pooped" and that he put the boy in the bathtub where he hit him "a lot" and that the boy "kept pooping more," according to the probable cause statement.

The probable cause statement said the boy died of injuries, including a lacerated liver and a ruptured brain vessel. There also were injuries to his head, neck, torso, buttocks, legs and arms.

By Salon Staff

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