Homicide charges expected in death of Pittsburgh-region toddler

Stepfather accused in Blairsville killing

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A Blairsville man will be charged with homicide this morning after his stepson died Sunday afternoon from injuries sustained during suspected child abuse, according to the Indiana County district attorney.

Malachi Patterson, 20 months, died at 12:28 p.m. Sunday at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, according to the Allegheny County medical examiner's office.

State police wrote in a criminal complaint that Malachi had bruises stretching from his left ear and cheek to the tip of his nose.

An autopsy is expected to be performed today.

Police have already charged Juan Campbell, 27, with aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child and reckless endangerment in connection with Malachi's injuries. District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said in an email that he intends to charge Mr. Campbell with homicide this morning. KDKA-TV identified Mr. Campbell as Malachi's stepfather.

Mr. Campbell, who was being held in the Indiana County Jail on Sunday on $150,000 bail, told investigators that he did not abuse Malachi.

State police wrote in a criminal complaint that Linda Patterson -- whom KDKA-TV identified as Malachi's grandmother -- told troopers Mr. Campbell put Malachi to bed between 9:30 and 9:45 p.m. Thursday.

When she checked on him between 10 and 10:30 p.m., he was asleep and uninjured, she told police.

Ms. Patterson told troopers she had trouble sleeping that night and heard Mr. Campbell come in and out of their apartment while Malachi whined slightly. She said she awoke at 2:30 a.m. Friday when Mr. Campbell told her something was wrong with Malachi.

"She reported that she noticed a bruise on his left cheek and asked [Mr. Campbell] what he had done to the victim," according to the complaint.

Mr. Campbell called 911, and Ms. Patterson also spoke with dispatchers.

In a Friday night interview with troopers, Mr. Campbell said he put Malachi to bed about 8:30 p.m., ate a sandwich at midnight and put Malachi and his 6-year-old son in his bed.

He said he awoke about 2:30 a.m. to go to the bathroom, came back and sang Malachi's name and noticed that Malachi didn't move or respond, according to the complaint.

Mr. Campbell told troopers he began doing CPR on Malachi and awoke Ms. Patterson.

"During the interview, [Mr. Campbell] said that he did not abuse the victim," troopers wrote in the complaint.

"He did acknowledge that [Ms. Patterson] and his son were asleep when a problem developed with the victim and agreed that he was the only adult in his bedroom when something happened to the victim."

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Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.


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