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Sidney Man Held in North Platte on Second Degree Murder Charges in Death of Infant

Also Charged with Felony Intentional Child Aduse, Assault by Strangulation

SIDNEY--According to documents released yesterday by the Cheyenne County Attorney's Office, Brandon Russell, a 25-year-old Sidney resident, was charged with Murder in the Second Degree, a Class 1B Felony, Felony Intentional Child Abuse Resulting in Death, a Class B Felony and Assault by Strangulation Resulting in Death, a Class 2A Felony in connection to the death of a two-year-old child on April 5, 2021.

Cheyenne County Sheriff's personnel were dispatched to 1533 14th Avenue In Sidney on April 5, 2021, in response to a 911 call about a two-year-old male child who was not breathing. Emergency personnel were on the scene and discovered the child was deceased, and from medical indications, it appeared the death had occurred several hours earlier. Sheriff's Department personnel contacted the child's mother who stated she had taken the child to the hospital the previous day, and he was sent home after several hours. The child had undergone a CAT scan, and it showed swelling outside of the skull. The mother stated that the child had fallen and hit his head on the television stand a couple of weeks prior and that he had been lethargic since the end of March. The mother said that she was told by hospital staff that the swelling would go down in time and there was no cause for concern. A follow-up appointment had been scheduled for the morning of April 5, 2021.

On the night of April 4, the mother stated that the child had stayed on the couch as he did not want to lie flat in bed. The mother stated she last checked on the child at about 10:30 p.m. on the night of April 4. When she woke up the next morning at about 7 a.m., she quickly showered and then checked on the infant, and observed purple coloration to his skin and that he was not breathing and lying face down on his belly with his head placed upon the armrest portion of the couch. She then alerted her boyfriend, Russell, and called 911. She advised Sheriff's Department personnel that she had been dating Russell for a few months and they had resided together for about one month.

The autopsy was performed by Dr. Schilke, M.D., and he advised that the infant had swelling on the right and back side of his head, and he advised that the child had swelling and a brain injury that was not present on the CAT scan completed on April 4, 2021. There was also bruising and abrasions on multiple points of the infant's body. Some of these injuries were documented during his hospital visit on April 4, 2021, but Schilke noted bruising that the bruising was in various stages of healing, consistent with abuse over some time. Toxicology tests revealed THC in the infant's system.

Dr. Schilke also advised that the child had new hemorrhaging on the muscles of the right side of his neck as well as new hemorrhaging on the right side of the larynx and trachea, consistent with suffering force to the neck sufficient for the esophagus to be forced down into the spine. Schilke estimated that victims of this type of injury would be unconscious in approximately 15 seconds, but the force would have to be maintained for two to three minutes to cause death.

After interviewing both the mother and Russell multiple times, it was discovered that although both the mother and Russell went to bed at about 11 p.m., the mother indicated that Russell did get up during the night and that he often stayed up throughout the night playing video games or doing things on his phone. She also indicated that at times during her and Russell's relationship, she would leave the infant with Russell, and when she returned, the child would scream and cry as though he were hurt. The mother also noticed the child seemed to be waking up with new bruises and she would have no idea where they came from. The mother said she would ask Russell where the bruises came from and he would get very upset. She also indicated that he was physically violent towards her on multiple occasions.

After further investigation involving witness statements, a search of phone records, and social media posts, law enforcement noted inconsistencies with Russell's story and timeline of events and found enough probable cause to arrest and charge Russell with Second Degree Murder, Felony Intentional Child Abuse Resulting in Death and Assault by Strangulation Resulting in Death. Russell is currently in custody at the Lincoln County Jail in North Platte.

 

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