Couple faces murder charges in 13-day-old's death

Posted at 5:47 AM, Oct 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-23 05:47:18-04

WEST JORDAN, UT (KSL/CNN) – A mother from Utah and her boyfriend have been arrested and charged with murder and child abuse in the death of a 13-day-old boy.

Police arrested 26-year-old Maria Elena Sullivan, the newborn’s mother, Sunday after she sought treatment at a hospital in Cherokee County, GA. Her boyfriend, 21-year-old Dylan James Kitzmiller, was arrested Friday night in Utah.

Both Sullivan and Kitzmiller were charged with murder, a first-degree felony, and three counts of child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury, a second-degree felony.

Salt Lake County Attorney Sim Gill says Sullivan’s 13-day-old son was left in the care of Kitzmiller most of Sept. 17 during a family get-together. The couple was living together at the time in the basement of one of Kitzmiller’s relatives.

Sometime after Sullivan came home, the boy stopped breathing.

Emergency crews were called because the newborn was in full arrest, according to the charges. The child made “grunting” and “gasping” noises before he stopped breathing, the couple told police.

"What was reported was that the child was moaning, and then he started to gasp for breath. It was presented like this happened all of a sudden,” Gill said.

The boy, who was born Sept. 4 with no known medical problem, was pronounced dead at the scene.

"They engaged in life-saving measures, and subsequently, they were not able to revive the child, who was found in distress,” Gill said.

An autopsy revealed the newborn died of severe brain injury, according to charging documents, and Gill says the autopsy also showed multiple signs of abuse.

The boy was dehydrated and had lost weight since birth in addition to suffering a number of other injuries, including a fractured arm, a broken rib and an injured spinal cord, charges state.

"There were different types of broken bones and injuries to ribs, so this was something that had happened for a period of time,” Gill said.

According to an arrest affidavit, Kitzmiller would be rough with the baby when he was angry, even flipping him into the air at least once. He also slapped and bit the child, charges state.

Gill says Sullivan faces murder charges because she failed to report the abuse.

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