A man was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison on a murder charge stemming from the death of 4-year-old Brett Jaynes II.
Michael C.R. Stapleton received a mandatory prison sentence Wednesday during a hearing in the Champaign County Common Pleas Court. The murder charge sentence will run consecutively with a three-year sentence for a burglary charge.
Champaign County Prosecutor Kevin Talebi said because the sentences run consecutively, Stapleton will serve the burglary sentence before serving the murder sentence, for which he will have a chance for a parole hearing after 15 years.
On Nov. 29, 2015, the Champaign County Dispatch Center received a 911 call from Stapleton at 254 Gunn St., North Lewisburg, stating Jaynes was non-responsive and experiencing labored breathing. Jaynes was pronounced dead at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus later that evening.
Following Jaynes’ death, bruises were observed on the head, face abdomen, buttocks and legs of the child. A medical examiner made the preliminary conclusion that the cause of death was homicide as a result of a hemorrhage due to blunt force trauma to the abdomen and the head, causing internal bleeding.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Talebi said there was no sentence that could undo the tragedy of the case or the loss of life in addition to the ripple effects the crime had on the victim’s family.
Talebi said Stapleton’s version of the incident was that he was awakened by the child who had wet the bed, for which the defendant smacked the child in the back of the head causing Jaynes to fall down stairs. Talebi said Stapleton then reported that he tried to bathe Jaynes, who was lying on his back semi-conscious.
“The defendant does not call 911, he does not call Brett’s parents, he does not call his wife, he reaches out to nobody over a child that just fell down the stairs and is now semi-conscious,” Talebi said. “The state does not believe that version of events. It’s not accurate or consistent with an accidental fall down the stairs – if an accident had occurred, a reasonable caregiver would have reached out immediately to medical personnel or at the very least family members and seek assistance for the child.”
Talebi said Stapleton instead acted in the manner of someone who intentionally inflicted abuse upon a child. When Stapleton spoke with law enforcement, Talebi noted he gave a completely different version of events, one that did not mention Jaynes’ fall down the stairs and claimed he did not know how the injuries occurred.
During the sentencing hearing, statements were given by Jaynes’ parents, Brett Jaynes and Erika Grenzebach.
During her statement, Grenzebach asked Stapleton how he could beat her son.
“I cannot think of anything that he could have done that your reaction was to beat him so violently,” Grenzebach said. “You knew what you were doing to a defenseless little boy was very wrong so why did you not stop? Why did you not get him help sooner? I know you will never answer these questions honestly but one day you will answer to God for his murder.”
Grenzebach said Stapleton deserved the death penalty but said she hoped he would never get a chance for parole.
“You killed a 4-year-old boy and you took a big piece of my heart,” Grenzebach said. “Why should you be able to get out of prison when Brett can not get out of his grave?”
Brett Jaynes asked Stapleton how he could take his son after bringing him and his family into his home.
“I hope my son drinks ice water watching you burn in hell,” Brett Jaynes told Stapleton.
Throughout a packed courtroom, supporters of the victim wore green items to represent The Incredible Hulk, which Grenzebach said was her son’s favorite action figure.
When given the opportunity to speak, Stapleton apologized for the pain his actions caused and said he made a mistake and deserved to pay for it.
“If I could trade my life for Brett’s I would do it in a heartbeat,” Stapleton said.
Talebi noted during the hearing that Stapleton has an extensive history of substance abuse that dates back to when he was 12 years old. Stapleton told the court he smoked marijuana and snorted Percocet on Nov. 29, 2015, when he was the primary caregiver for six children in the Gunn Street residence.
After the facts of the case were presented to the court, Judge Nick Selvaggio said the court did not find Stapleton’s explanation of events to be consistent with the severity of the injuries inflicted upon Brett Jaynes II.
In addition to the murder charge, the burglary charge against Stapleton stemmed from conduct committed last November when Stapleton trespassed into a Cable residence where he stole a Hi-Point .380 caliber handgun along with ammunition and money.
Talebi thanked the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, investigators from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, children’s services and investigators from the Franklin County Coroner’s Office for their work in the investigation. He also thanked family members who were supportive of the process and efforts of the prosecutor’s office.