MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 25-year-old St. Paul man faces a murder charge after a 3-year-old boy he was watching died from major internal injuries, according to the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office.
Alontae Butts faces one felony count of second-degree murder without intent in connection to the Jan. 14-15, 2019 incident.
According to the criminal complaint, on Jan. 15, medics brought in a 3-year-old boy to the Children’s Hospital from his residence on the 1000 block of Carroll Avenue in St. Paul. He had bruising all over his body and was in cardiac arrest when he arrived, and was pronounced dead a short time later despite resuscitation attempts.
Butts — who was watching the victim and the victim’s two siblings, ages 2 and 6 — agreed to speak with police while the children were checked out. He told police that he is the kids’ primary caregiver and had no explanation for the injuries to the victim’s face and body.
During the check-up, the 2-year-old was found to have a healing scalp laceration and a bruise to her left cheek, as well as an abdominal distention, a laceration to her liver and other injuries.
The 6-year-old told authorities that Butts hits and chokes him and his siblings when they are too loud or crying. He also told authorities that Butts would step on their stomachs, the complaint said.
Butts denied the allegations of abuse, but said he may have accidentally stepped on the kids in the middle of the night because their bed is on the ground, but never stomped on them.
According to the complaint, Butts said they would wrestle and he wondered if he may have fell on them too hard. Butts said they were playing too rough and he tripped and fell. They all slammed on the floor. He said the victim who died had the wind knocked out of him.
The victim was taken to the hospital after hours of complaining of stomach pain and vomiting on the evening of Jan. 14. He was found in the bathroom “cold and his mouth was stiff.” Butts said he didn’t think the boy’s sickness was due to the wrestling incident.
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy on the victim. It determined the victim had multiple traumatic injuries, including a generalized cerebral edema and a perforation of the duodenum, which is a part of the small intestine. His cause of death was determined to be multiple traumatic injuries and manner of death as homicide, pending additional history.
If convicted, Butts could face up to 40 years in prison.