Stepfather of dead Indiana County toddler charged with criminal homicide

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The stepfather of a Blairsville toddler who died Sunday has been charged with criminal homicide and accused of smothering the boy while trying to stop his crying, Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said Monday.

Juan Raul Campbell, 27, also faces charges of aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children and reckless endangerment in connection with the incident early Friday.

Investigators said Mr. Campbell, of Blairsville, had been sleeping with 20-month-old Malachi Patterson and his 6-year-old son while his wife -- the toddler's mother -- was at Conemaugh Memorial Hospital in Johnstown, recuperating after giving birth to their newborn.

"At some point in the night, we believe he had [Malachi] on his chest, the child rolled off the bed onto the floor and was crying and whimpering, and in an attempt to get him to stop crying, Mr. Campbell held his hand over the boy's mouth and nose until he stopped crying," Mr. Dougherty said.

Malachi had bruises extending from his left ear across his face to the tip of his nose, according to a Pennsylvania State Police criminal complaint.

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

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

State police wrote in a criminal complaint that Linda Patterson, who Mr. Dougherty said was Malachi's grandmother, told troopers Mr. Campbell put Malachi to bed between 9:30 and 9:45 p.m. Thursday. When she checked on the child 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.

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. Another child, his wife's 6-year-old son, also was home at the time, Mr. Dougherty said.

Mr. Campbell told police 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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Amy McConnell Schaarsmith: aschaarsmith@post-gazette.com. First Published May 20, 2013 4:15 PM


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