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Published: Thursday, 9/5/2013

Port Clinton couple arraigned in baby’s death

Pair is charged with permitting child abuse

BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

PORT CLINTON — A November trial is scheduled to hear the case against a mother and her boyfriend who are charged with felonies related to the March, 2012, death of an 8-week-old boy.

Kayla Henderson, 25, and Beau Hutchinson, 26, both of Port Clinton, were arraigned Tuesday in Ottawa County Common Pleas Court. They pleaded not guilty to first-degree felony charges of permitting child abuse resulting in the death of a child, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and third-degree felony charges of child endangering, punishable by up to five years in prison.

The infant, Kalib Henderson, suffered “massive trauma to the head” — a “very hard blow” that could have occurred from shaking the baby against a wall or throwing him to the ground, said Ottawa County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Mulligan. Both Ms. Henderson and her boyfriend, Mr. Hutchinson, were present when the injuries occurred, the prosecutor said.

“These are the cases that tear the hearts out of prosecutors,” Mr. Mulligan said, adding the baby was “defenseless” and “innocent.”

Port Clinton attorney Thomas DeBacco, who represents both defendants, called the child’s death a “tragic accident” that took place during a get-together at a friend’s house.

“They did nothing that any parent hasn’t done before. They left the room while the baby was sleeping in a car seat, a car carrier, and while they were outside of the room something happened to that baby. The baby was in the room with other children, and we may never know what happened,” he said.

His clients were with other adults on a sun porch while the baby was in a car seat on the living room floor, the attorney said.

“They heard a noise, went into the room, and the baby’s laying on the floor. There is some evidence that the baby was picked up by a child,” Mr. DeBacco said.

Mr. Mulligan said the co-defendants first took the injured baby to Ms. Henderson’s grandmother’s house. He said stopping to pick her up required traveling “away from the hospital” before taking the child to Magruder Hospital in Port Clinton.

He was flown to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, and then to the Ann Arbor Children’s Hospital, where he died days later from the injuries.

Mr. DeBacco contends the grandmother’s house was along the route to the hospital and the couple stopped because they “needed that support.”

The prosecutor declined to comment on why his office chose the specific charges but said “a lot of effort” was put into building the case.

Ms. Henderson had another child about nine months after Kalib’s death, and that baby was removed from the couple’s custody, Mr. Mulligan said. He said there was no evidence the other child had been harmed. Mr. DeBacco said Ms. Henderson can see the child during supervised visits while a relative has custody.

Both defendants were released from jail on $350,000 unsecured bonds. Their next court date is Sept. 19. A trial is set for Nov. 26.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6056, or on Twitter @vanmccray.



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