Mom's boyfriend charged with murder in Crystal toddler's death

- A Crystal, Minnesota man has been arrested and charged with the murder of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son, accused of beating the boy unconscious. According to Crystal police, officers were called to a home on the 3400 block of Adair Avenue at 11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11 on a report of a toddler who was not breathing.

According to the criminal complaint, the boy’s mother called 911 and responding officers, paramedics and firefighters found the boy unconscious, bruised, and critically ill. The boy was taken to the hospital, where doctors determined the toddler had several episodes of cardiac arrest, was neurologically unresponsive, and had numerous bruises on his body. He was pronounced dead on Sunday. Feb. 12.

After a weekend of investigation, Crystal police arrested Quran Jabari Mitchell, 21, who is the boyfriend of the toddler’s mother. Mitchell has been charged with second-degree murder and is being held at the Hennepin County Jail, with bail set at $1 million.

“There can be absolutely no tolerance for people who abuse small children," Crystal Police Chief Stephanie Revering said.

According to the criminal complaint, Mitchell told police he had hit the boy numerous times as punishment, sometimes with a flip-flop, but that he "never hit him too hard.” He said the boy had been sick over the last week and would not lay down to go to bed, so he hit him in the face with a flip-flop “no more than 5 times.” He said he also hit the boy on the thigh and that the child fell down and got back up. Mitchell also admitted to using his foot on the toddler 4 to 5 times, but said he never actually kicked him.

According to the complaint, Mitchell, the boy and his mother rented a room in the Crystal home of another family. A woman living elsewhere in the house said Mitchell had been beating the boy since the family moved in 2 months ago. The housemate said the night paramedics were called, she heard “loud thuds” coming from Mitchell’s apartment, and then the sound of the boy crying. Another witness said he heard Mitchell yelling, “shut up,” followed by banging noises.

Tuesday afternoon, Crystal police said they may investigate the lack of reporting by the family's landlords. Police said the toddler's mother is a victim herself -- she was apparently abused by her boyfriend as well.

Mitchell admitted to hitting the toddler on other occasions, “but never more than 5 times at once.” He said his preferred method of discipline was to make the boy stand in the corner “but they never listen the first time” and therefore it was necessary to hit him.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner performed an autopsy and noted the boy had head injuries and bleeding in his eyes consistent with blunt force trauma. The investigation into this history and the age of the victim’s injuries is ongoing.

Watch the complete Crystal PD press conference at http://bit.ly/2lHXJgk.

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