A capital murder trial has been rescheduled for a man accused of beating and sexually abusing an infant boy.
Cullman Times reports that Jeffrey Hugh Brown is charged with capital murder and sexual torture after his girlfriend’s son, Hoss Benham, died on his first birthday. The defendant’s lawyers requested a continuance on Monday, which was granted by a Cullman County judge. The trial is now scheduled for sometime after September.
The toddler’s mother, Crystal Ballenger, is also facing murder charges and sexual torture charges, according to Cullman.gov. Both suspects are facing the death penalty.
According to court documents, Ballenger took Hoss to the Cullman Regional Medical Center emergency room in March 2014, after the boy collapsed in her home off of U.S. 31 North. The boy was pronounced dead shortly after.
An autopsy report by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences revealed that the little boy had 89 injuries across his body. His head and neck had 38 injuries, apparently caused by blunt-force trauma. Both of his eyes had four injuries, and 19 injuries were found on his arms and legs.
Further, the autopsy report revealed that boy had six injuries around his torso, seven injuries to his genitals and anus, and numerous burns on both of his feet.
A physician at the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Huntsville said that the boy’s injuries to his private parts indicated sexual abuse had taken place, court documents read.
“It’s really unbelievable and just hard to read what happened to this infant child. His last 36 hours were spent in horror and pain,” Cullman County District Attorney Wilson Blaylock said.
“With the victim being under 14 and the findings of this autopsy, we are moving forward with the capital murder charges on both Ballenger and Brown. It takes you aback to think that anyone could cause these types of injuries to a child.”
Ballenger and Brown initially told police the boy drowned in a bathtub, according to court documents, Cullman Today reports. Yet, police said the baby had a skull fracture, and the massive amount of injuries on his body would not have happened from drowning.
Ballenger later told police she saw Brown holding Hoss “underwater for 20-25 seconds,” an arrest affidavit stated. She also said she saw Brown feeding the boy Tabasco sauce when he cried.
Both suspects remain behind bars.