SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The death of a toddler in June has led to a second-degree murder charge against the boyfriend of the boy's mother. Austin Pelley, 22, is accused of causing the boy's death by abusive head trauma.
Benjamin Joseph Garrison died at a hospital in Springfield two days after he went there in critical condition. An autopsy found the boy died of "abusive head trauma."
Benjamin's mother, Chelsea Garrison, said she'd been dating Pelley for a couple of months and left her son in Pelley's care at his home in the Southwinds Apartment, 821 South Avenue. She said she left to take a college test and found Benjamin unconscious when she arrived home.
At the emergency room, doctors found Benjamin's brain was bleeding and he had severe bruises on his face and body. Surgeons had to remove a portion of the boy's skull to relieve pressure.
A resident who lived in the apartment directly below Pelley's apartment told police that he heard "what sounded like someone striking a slab of beef" in Pelley's apartment. He also heard Benjamin crying. The resident heard Benjamin crying but then Pelley's apartment weas silent. A little later, the resident heard "what sounded like two loud 'thuds' on Austin's bathroom floor, which he described as similar to a sack of potatoes being thrown onto the ground, but didn't hear any crying or other noises," according to the detective's probable cause statement.