27-year-old Crystal Ballenger and 41-year-old Jeffrey Hugh Brown were arrested after the death of 1-year-old Hoss Wayne Benham, who was found to have 89 injuries across his body.
The little boy suffered sexual abuse inflicted not only by his mother but also her boyfriend. He passed away ‘in horror and pain’ on his first birthday.
Ballenger and Brown first said that he had passed away in the bathtub. But according to an autopsy, the boy had 38 injuries on his neck and head sustained by blunt-force trauma.
Hoss Wayne also had four injuries on each of his eyes, six on his torso, 19 on his legs and arms, seven on his genitals, four burns to left foot and seven burns to his right foot.
Authorities also said that his skull was fractured.
According to prosecutors, the injuries indicate the child suffered both sexual and physical torture at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend.
Cullman County District Attorney Wilson Blaylock sought death penalty after the autopsy report was released. He said: “It’s really unbelievable and just hard to read what happened to this infant child. His last 36 hours were spent in horror and pain.”
The boy passed away on the day he turned 1. His mother and her boyfriend were indicted on capital murder charges. The two also tested positive for drugs.
A woman who said she was the child’s great grandmother wrote: “He was my first great grand son and I miss him every single day and he is always on my mind.
“I look to heaven every night and tell him goodnight, because I know he is in heaven and he watches over us all.
“I Love You and miss you and I miss that beautiful smile that was always on your face. From your great nana.”
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