A Norman man has been arrested and charged with first degree murder after a 20-month-old boy left in his care was found dead of blunt force trauma.
Jake Ryan Holman, 25, is charged with the murder of Maddox Wyatt Abner, the son of Holman's girlfriend. Reports say Holman called 9-1-1 on February 4 saying that the he woke to the child lying unresponsive on the floor outside of his crib.
The child's mother, Cydney Cox, says that she last saw the child when she went out and left her son in Holman's care around 9:00 p.m. the previous night. She told police she woke to Holman screaming at her and telling her that the toddler was "possibly deceased."
By the time emergency medical workers arrived, the child had been moved from his crib to a couch, and he was already dead. Police described the boys injuries as "suspicious."
According to a report by the Medical Examiner's Office, the toddler died of blunt force trauma, and they say his injuries are inconsistentwith falling out of a crib. Injuries included "transected organs and a swollen brain."
As Cox spoke with police, she reportedly told them that the night of the child's death was not the first time he sustained suspicious injuries while in the care of her boyfriend. She claims that he suffered injuries on at least four occasions, including one incident in which he sustained a broken arm while in Holman's care.
Holman is held without bond in the Cleveland County Jail. If ultimately convicted of first degree murder by child abuse, he faces the possibility of life in prison without parole.
In many cases of child abuse, the mother of the child will ultimately be charged with a crime, even if she herself was not the abuser (this also applies to fathers who are not abusers but who leave their children in the care of someone who abuses the child). This is known as a "failure to protect" law, and in Oklahoma, it is charged as "enabling child abuse." If a parent knows, or should reasonably have known, that a child was at risk of harm under a certain individual's care, then that parent may be charged with enabling child abuse. The potential penalties for enabling child abuse are the same as if the parent actually committed the abuse: up to life in prison.
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Image credit: Harvey K. , Michael C. Irving Child Abuse Monument