A man accused of killing a 4-year-old child pleaded not guilty to multiple charges during a continued arraignment hearing last week.
While the hearing was originally scheduled for Monday, Michael C.R. Stapleton, 25, pleaded not guilty during a continued arraignment Friday. Stapleton was indicted last Thursday on three counts each of murder, endangering children and one count each of felonious assault, involuntary manslaughter and possessing criminal tools in connection with the Nov. 29 death of Brett Jaynes II.
The Champaign County Dispatch Center received a 911 call from Stapleton at 254 Gunn St. on that date. He reported Jaynes was non-responsive and experiencing labored breathing.
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.
The grand jury indictment contends two of the endangering children charges stem from Stapleton abusing and administering corporal punishment against the victim. The indictment also contends the possessing criminal tools item used criminally was a belt.
A press release issued by Champaign County Prosecutor Kevin Talebi states each murder charge holds an indefinite term of 15 years to life in prison if Stapleton is convicted.
A case scheduling conference in the case is scheduled for Tuesday.
Man pleads guilty to sex charges
A Columbus man who attended Urbana University and was employed by the Champaign Family YMCA pleaded guilty to two charges in relation to sex crimes committed earlier this year.
Dechard L. Watson pleaded guilty to gross sexual imposition and a stipulated lesser offense of unlawful sex with a minor, both fourth degree felonies, on Dec. 8, according to the Franklin County Clerk of Court’s website.
Watson was indicted earlier this year in relation to a March 3 incident in which he reportedly engaged in sexual conduct with a 14-year-old in Columbus.
Watson was employed as a part-time employee at the YMCA from November 2014 until March 9. The Daily Citizen previously reported that the termination was due to transportation issues causing him to be unable to show up for work and that he was enrolled as a student at Urbana University.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2016. Court documents state Watson faces a maximum prison term of 18 months on each count along with a sexual offender classification.
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.