An 8-year-old has died of brain injuries after being assaulted by his mother's fiance for not cleaning his room.
JohnMarquis Stepich was taken to the hospital June 20 with severe brain injuries and bruising on various parts of his body, according to media reports.
Doctors contacted police after determining the extent of his injuries, which included brain bleeding and a herniated brain stem. He was placed on a ventilator.
Orlando Williams, 38, was arrested later that day and charged with aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and recklessly endangering another person. The charge was upgraded to homicide in the wake of JohnMarquis’ death, according to WPXI.
The Allegheny County medical examiner confirmed June 24 that JohnMarquis’ death was as a result of blunt force trauma.
A criminal report said that Williams had been drinking with a friend earlier June 19, according to KDKA. JohnMarquis’ mother then drove Williams home before leaving for work.
Later, Williams allegedly went into the boy’s room and tripped over a laundry basket full of clothes. He woke JohnMarquis and yelled at him to clean his room.
Williams admitted going back into the room several minutes later, and after finding JohnMarquis sitting on his bed, he picked the 8-year-old up and slammed him down on the bed. Williams said he intended to drop JohnMarquis in the center of the bed but missed.
“No child, regardless of the circumstances, deserves to be beaten that severely,” JohnMarquis’ uncle, Raymond Stepich, told WPXI.
He pointed out that Williams’ version of events did not fit with the extent of JohnMarquis’ injuries.
“He had bruises throughout his body, his arms and his chest. He had scratches on his neck and his head,” Raymond added.
In addition, he suggested the incident could have been foreseen, since children’s services had visited the house once before.
“Someone could have done something before it got to this point. That boy did not have to die for someone to step in and do something,” he said.
JohnMarquis’ mother has lost custody of her other two children, aged 4 and 13. They are now being looked after by their grandmother.
Williams is a tier 3 sex offender, meaning that he should not have been around children. It remains unclear whether he will face further criminal charges for breaching this requirement.
Williams is being held in the Allegheny County jail without bond.