SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah -- A Utah man is facing a charge in the death of his girlfriend's 19-month-old child, and expert medical testimony indicates the boy may have been abused.
According to court documents filed Friday, 33-year-old Colossal Teton of Taylorsville faces one count of child abuse homicide after he allegedly gave several conflicting statements regarding the death and also tested positive for a variety of drugs.
The toddler suffered fatal injuries at a Salt Lake County home on November 1 of 2015. The boy's mother told police she was either sleeping or smoking when something happened to the toddler, and she said Teton is the one who came to tell her the boy was hurt. The woman told police Teton, "took care of [the child] like he was his dad."
"He’s definitely not somebody that would hurt a child," said Solaro Teton, Colossal's brother. "Everybody’s got a background, but my brother is a good person. He was good to that baby."
The woman said the injuries on the boy's body were a result of the baby's own conduct and not from abuse. A 9-year-old relative told police he saw Teton carrying the boy down the stairs, and after that said "my cousin got hurt" but did not elaborate. Another relative said they heard a loud fall down the stairs.
Teton left the home before police arrived, but once he spoke with them he gave "multiple conflicting accounts" regarding the fall. He initially said he fell once while holding the child, then later said he fell twice with the child, but in a completely different way. He also stated the falls were due to a "bum knee." In a third interview, the man said he was "loopy" on drugs when he fell and said the fall was not due to his knee.
Teton tested positive for prescription substances, cocaine, marijuana and alcohol, according to the document.
Medical personnel observed numerous injuries on the boy, including a skull fracture and fractures in the boy's forearms. While the full autopsy report has not been finalized, a doctor states their initial opinion was that a fall does not account for all of the injuries on the boy's body.
Another doctor specializing in child abuse cases reviewed the medical records and photographs, and they stated their opinion is that there were too many injuries on too many different parts of his body to be explained by the sequence of events offered by Teton. That doctor also identified a "clear 'slap mark' bruise" on the boy's cheek and stated several of his injuries would have required "considerable" force to inflict.
The doctor concluded, "Given all of [victim's] injuries, their inconsistency with a stair fall, and outcome (death) that is very atypical for a stair fall, and the presence of clearly abusive injuries, it is my opinion that [victim] has been the victim of physical abuse. It is my opinion that his death was most likely caused by abuse and not by a stair fall accident."
Teton was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail after a warrant was issued Friday. He has been charged with one count of child abuse homicide as a second-degree felony.
"I don’t think he should be punished for an accident" Solaro Teton said of his brother. "But then again, a baby’s life was lost. So, who’s to say how much punishment he deserves."