Maria Elena Sullivan, 26, and Dylan James Kitzmiller, 21, were charged with one count of first-degree murder and three counts of child abuse in the death of Sullivan’s infant son, according to court documents filed on Friday, KTLA sister station KSTU reported.
Sullivan was arrested at a Georgia hospital where she was seeking treatment and will face a judge to determine if she will be extradited back to Utah. Kitzmiller was arrested in a West Jordan, Utah, where the couple lived with a relative.
While officials don’t think Sullivan caused any of the abuse directly, she still faces a murder charge because she was aware of the abuse and took no steps to stop it or take the child to safety.
The child was born September 4 with no known health problems, and on September 17 the child was pronounced dead by medical responders.
Prosecutors allege Kitzmiller was abusing the child regularly and that Sullivan knew about the abuse, but did nothing to stop it or to get treatment for the injuries.
On the day of the child’s death, Sullivan told police she was on the phone with a friend and speaking about her desire to “get away from Kitzmiller’s abuse” of her and her son.
As this call was occurring, the baby was in Kitzmiller’s care. When Sullivan went downstairs, she found the baby wearing only a diaper while Kitzmiller moved the boy’s legs “in a rough weird bicycle thing.” Kitzmiller told Sullivan the boy would be fine and to just put him to sleep, she told police.
She picked him up and he seemed calmer, but later that night she heard the boy making noises and gasping for air. She pinched the boy to try to get him to respond and said she heard the baby gasp a few more times before the child stopped breathing.
The couple went upstairs to use a relative’s phone to call 911. First responders performed CPR but life-saving measures were ultimately unsuccessful.
Charging documents say Sullivan told police that Kitzmiller was rough with the baby, but she continued to leave him in his care. She also said she had learned the man was using heroin daily and said he was verbally abusive toward her.
She said Kitzmiller would abuse the boy, including grabbing him by the shoulder and throwing him in the air, swaddling him face down and on one occasion covering the boy’s mouth and nose with his hand as the baby cried. She said he once threw the baby back and forth between his hands and also slapped him in the face and bite his hands.
Charging documents state Sullivan was aware of the injuries but never sought medical care for her son.
Police said Kitzmiller told officers that Sullivan and a relative had yelled at him for being too rough with the baby and that Sullivan did not cause any of the boy’s injuries.
A doctor examined the boy and found he had lost 14 percent of his body mass in weight in the 13 days since his birth, going from 5 pounds 6 ounces to 4 pounds and 8 ounces at death. He had abrasions and bruises on his face and body. The boy also suffered a spinal fracture and a broken rib along with a “massive” amount of swelling in his brain.