Defense: Griffith man did 'dumb things' before boy's death

2012-09-25T19:30:00Z 2012-09-26T08:59:03Z Defense: Griffith man did 'dumb things' before boy's deathSusan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com (219) 662-5325 nwitimes.com
September 25, 2012 7:30 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | Defendant Levi Hiatt knew he had seriously injured a 3-year-old left in his care, deputy prosecuting attorney Angela Brown said Tuesday as she opened a murder case against the Griffith man.

Hiatt, 28, was aware he had injured the boy's genitals and that the boy was unconscious from a head injury, she said.

"His eyes rolled in the back of his head," Brown said of Comer Watkins, the son of Hiatt's then-girlfriend. In addition to murder, Hiatt faces multiple felony child neglect charges.

Brown said the boy was unconscious for at least 20 hours before Hiatt called 911.

"Only this defendant knew it," she said, telling jurors Hiatt did not mention the injuries to the boy's mother when she returned from work after midnight.

However, defense attorney Larry Rogers argued Hiatt's bipolar condition means he processes information differently than people without the condition.

"Did he do some dumb things?" Rogers said. "Yes, he did.

"There is no evidence (Hiatt) intended to kill the boy," he said.

A probable cause affidavit states police were called at 2 p.m. April 12, 2010, to the Griffith home shared by the couple after Hiatt called the boy's mother at work to tell her the boy was unresponsive.

The child died of head injuries after being airlifted to the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Brown said Tuesday the boy had slept at his maternal grandmother's house the weekend of April 11, 2010.

While bathing the boy before going to a baby shower, the grandmother noticed no bumps to the boy's head or bruises to his body, Brown said.

While at the shower, the boy played happily with other children, she said.

But Rogers said the boy's unusual behavior after the shower indicated he had been hurt.

Rogers said the boy complained of a headache and wanted to go to sleep after returning from the shower with his mother.

Attempting later to wake the boy, Hiatt unintentionally injured the boy's groin with his right knee after jumping on the bed, Rogers said.

Hiatt then took the screaming child into the bathroom, where the boy's head hit the tub and the floor as Hiatt tugged on the boy's pants to remove them.

Believing the boy to be almost convulsing, Hiatt checked Internet sites for what to do about head and genital injuries. He placed ice on the boy's groin and believed the boy to be sleeping, Rogers said.

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