Toddler died shortly after suspect learned he wasn't the father

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The only father figure in 14-month-old Tyler Davis' violence-shortened life was Jarred B. Knight, boyfriend of Tyler's mother, Jessica J. Davis.

On Jan. 23, Ms. Davis, of Marion, Butler County, filed a petition seeking child support, and on May 15, Mr. Knight, of Harrisville, submitted genetic samples to verify paternity, according to Butler County Court documents.

A few weeks ago the results came in. There was no chance Mr. Knight was the biological father.

It was about that time, Ms. Davis told state police, that Mr. Knight began treating the baby differently. Investigators said Mr. Knight's treatment of Tyler lead to the child dying last weekend of head trauma.

According to an affidavit that supports his arrest, state police believe that around 12:40 p.m. last Saturday, Mr. Knight slammed Tyler's head against the bathroom wall so hard that the impact left an indentation in the drywall.

Tyler was taken to Grove City Hospital and then to Children's Hospital, where he died Sunday.

Mr. Knight, who turned 23 today, had been baby-sitting Saturday at the Allison Road residence Ms. Davis shares with her family while she went to work. Mr. Knight told variations of a story detailing how the baby was injured.

He first said he had been kneeling on one knee with the baby seated on his other knee after he had given the child a bath. He said the boy was fidgeting and, as he fell backwards, Mr. Knight said he grabbed the baby's leg. Tyler's head banged the side of the bathtub in the process, Mr. Knight told police.

He sat Tyler on the sink and noticed that his head was "slumped over," the affidavit said.

He later said he was holding the injured child and running toward the door to seek help from neighbors when he tripped over one of the Davis family's pet dogs. When he fell, the child's head struck the hardwood floor with Mr. Knight landing on top of him, the police affidavit said.

Doctors at Children's Hospital quickly deduced that the skull fracture and brain injuries suffered by Tyler were not consistent with any of these explanations.

Ms. Davis told state police that Mr. Knight was clearly upset after learning that he was not Tyler's biological father. Shortly after the paternity test results were known, she said she began noticing bruising on the baby's face, arms, legs and chest.

She said her son began having nightmares, and that he seemed afraid of Mr. Knight.

Mr. Knight was being held without bail in the Butler County Jail. A preliminary hearing that is scheduled July 3 before District Judge Lewis Stoughton in Chicora likely will be postponed, the judge's staff said. No new date has been announced.


Jim McKinnon can be reached at jmckinnon@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1939.


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