WEST JORDAN, Utah (KTVX) – A couple in West Jordan has been charged with murder in the death of their 13-day-old son.
Maria Elena Sullivan, 26, and Dylan James Kitzmiller, 21, were each charged in 3rd District Court with first-degree felony murder and three second-degree felony counts of child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury in the death of the couple’s newborn son.
Police in West Jordan responded to a full arrest call at about 11:30 p.m. on September 17. When they arrived, they found a 13-day-old boy was on the bedroom floor. Police attempted life-saving measures but the infant died at the scene.
Both police and medical personnel said they observed bruising around the infant’s eyes, left shoulder and arm as well as discoloration of his bottom lip and chin. There was also an injury to the infants left ear.
In a search conducted of the home, police located a number of items of adult and baby clothing that appeared to have blood stains on them.
Sullivan told officers that she noticed her son seemed happy the morning of the 17th but as the day went on he started to moan. Sullivan had left during the day and had left the infant with Kitzmiller. She later returned home and took a nap with him. Later that evening, Sullivan left the infant again with Kitzmiller again while she made a phone call to a friend.
Sullivan had told her friend that she was trying to get away from Kitzmiller and that he was abusive to her and the infant. After the phone call, she went downstairs to find the child moving oddly but she attempted to calm the infant and help him go to sleep by placing him in a swing.
She told officers when she picked the child up to go to bed, she noticed he was moaning continuously and started grunting and gasping for air, then stopped breathing. She then grabbed her son and ran upstairs to get help from Kitzmiller’s mother and call 911.
Sullivan indicated that she knew Kitzmiller was rough when picking up the baby and she observed him grabbing her son by the shoulder, causing his head to flip and then throw the baby in the air. She said some time when the baby was crying, Kitzmiller held his hand over the infant’s mouth and nose for a few seconds. Sullivan said Kitzmiller would throw the baby back and forth between his hands, had slapped the baby and bit his hands.
Sullivan was charged because police say she was aware of Kitzmiller’s abuse of the child but never sough medical care for him after he came home from the hospital..
Kitzmiller told police he was often yelled at for being too rough with the baby and that he and Sullivan had used heroin in the presence of the child on the night the baby died. He told officers that Sullivan did not cause any of the infant’s injuries.
An autopsy performed by Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Kacy Krehbiel indicated the child had lost 14% of his body mass since birth and had bruises and abrasions on several parts of his body. The infants’s brain had a massive amount of blood. The infant’s spinal cord appeared to be injured, with several areas of hemorrhage, which the examiner said was most likely caused before th baby with unresponsive.
The infant’s death was ruled a homicide.
An arrest warrant was issued for the couple in the amount of $1 million. Kitzmiller was arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail Saturday morning. It is not known at this time if Sullivan has been taken into custody.