Ohio authorities believe a teenager died on May 18 from injuries he sustained more than a decade ago when he was still a baby.
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center pronounced Carl Leggett, 14, dead and the Hamilton County coroner is treating the incident as an “apparent homicide.”
An autopsy has been conducted with the cause of death unknown, according to a coroner’s report released on May 20. Laboratory tests are being conducted and no conclusive findings are expected from the coroner until at least June.
Investigators are meanwhile examining whether Leggett may have died from injuries he suffered back when he was beaten as a baby.
In a 2005 court case grandmother Shannon Jordan testified that the boyfriend of Leggett’s mother, Terry Stiles, had beaten and shaken the child when he was just a 5-month-old baby.
Stiles was sentenced to eight years in jail for assaulting and ruining what should otherwise have been a happy and healthy childhood for Leggett.
“Carl’s life was nothing but pain, medications, hospital stays,” Jordan said, according to KCCI.
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Investigators claim the beatings happened in Arlington Heights when Leggett’s mother Sierra Burton, who now lives in Florida, was sleeping and left Stiles in charge of watching over the baby.
Burton appeared to show remorse for her son’s mistreatment when she made a teary statement to the media.
“We didn’t get a chance to see him walk or anything,” Burton told KCCI on May 20. “You just need to be careful who you bring around your kids. We thought, or I thought, at the time I could trust him.”
When the beatings happened Leggett’s head would swell to three times the normal size.
Even the simple act of turning the baby was a challenge because his tiny arms would contract.
“They were, you know, stuck in a solid position,” Jordan said. “You could barely open them when you washed him, so you couldn’t put clothes on him and we would put, I’d put, wash cloths on his chest.”
She took a quick breath when she showed the last wash cloth she placed on his chest. Jordan claimed she prepared 48 syringes a day to help manage Leggett’s pain caused by the beatings.
“There’s Carl’s bed,” she said, indicating to a KCCI reporter the corner of the front room in an apartment. “I couldn’t be out of earshot of him because he needed suction so much because of his trach, so our life’s just been in this room.”
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Jordan’s biggest regret is Leggett died when his whole life was still ahead of him, forced to live a life of constant care unable to do anything for himself and live the life he was supposed to enjoy.
“We lost a precious soul and it’s not fair because he didn’t get the life he was supposed to have,” she said.
Although Stiles has already served his time behind bars, Jordan blames the convicted attacker for Leggett no longer being alive.
“What he did to Carl is, I believe, the direct result why we don’t have Carl now,” she said. “If he never laid his hands on that baby, Carl would be a 14-year-old boy in school, playing Xbox [or] outside playing.”
A funeral service for Leggett will be held on May 23.