MICHIGAN CITY | A Michigan City man has been charged with murder in connection with the death of a 2-year-old Michigan City boy who died from physical abuse.
Tommy Shannon Jr., 22, of Michigan City, is charged in LaPorte Superior Court 1 with murder, and two counts of felony battery.
Charges against other individuals are also anticipated, authorities said.
According to LaPorte County Sheriff's Department, deputies retrieved Shannon on Sept. 30 from the Vanderburgh County Jail in Evansville and returned with him to face the charges.
He is being held without bond in the LaPorte County Jail pending the outcome of the case.
According to court documents, Shannon is accused of intentionally killing Nizeir Brown on Aug. 13 by use of physical force at a home in the 200 East block of Seventh Street.
LaPorte County Chief Deputy Coroner Mark Huffman said the boy died from blunt force trauma to the abdomen.
"The whole area was traumatized," Huffman said.
Huffman said Shannon was the boyfriend of the child's mother, whose name was not disclosed.
LaPorte County Prosecutor Bob Szilagyi said the boy was taken to the hospital by Shannon and his mother with convulsions.
He died in the hospital.
Szilagyi said the boy had been in the hospital a week previously with a high fever and due to suspicions from doctors about his latest emergency room visit an autopsy was performed.
He said the forensic examination showed Nizeir had sustained severe internal injuries.
"He was punched so bad that his pancreas basically was split in half," Szilagyi said.
Szilagyi said there were other signs of previous abuse uncovered during the autopsy but he did not know long the alleged abuse had been occurring.
He said the mother may face charges but what she will be charged with is still being examined by he and members of his staff. Szilagyi said the grandmother, whose name was not released, also faces charges with failure to report and obstruction of justice.
"We believe she had some idea what was going on and didn't report anything," Szilagyi said.
Szilagyi said the boy's death was not made public right away because of lingering questions on whether his death resulted from physical abuse or from some previous medical condition.
"It was kind of an extensive investigation," Szilagyi said.
Szilagyi said the mother at one point had left the home but it's not clear yet if she was home when the fatal punch was delivered.
"She may have left the boy with the defendant during that period of time," Szilagyi said.
He said Shannon was being held in Vanderburgh County on a warrant for a prior felony offense and when the murder charges surfaced here authorities in LaPorte County were alerted to come pick him up.