St. Paul man facing murder charge in death of 3-year-old

January 22, 2019 10:19 PM

A 25-year-old St. Paul man is facing a murder charge after authorities say a 3-year old boy in his care died earlier this month after suffering internal and external injuries.

The Ramsey County Attorney's office said Alontae Kaypre Butts was charged Tuesday, the same day he made his first court appearance.

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According to the criminal complaint, medics brought the 3-year-old boy to Children's Hospital on Jan. 15. Friends and neighbors identified the boy as Levi Gardent.

 

Neighbors saw the commotion across the street at a home on Carroll Avenue.

"I saw the ambulance come and the lights were still on when they left, so I think he was still alive and it was a child because they put a small body on the gurney," said Ashley Gieseke.

Gardent was bruised, unconscious and in cardiac arrest when he arrived and was pronounced dead a short time later, despite resuscitation efforts. 

The Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office concluded the boy had multiple traumatic injuries and listed the manner of his death as a homicide (pending additional history).

The complaint said officers then went to a residence on the 1000 block of Carroll Avenue and made contact with Butts, who had been watching the boy's siblings - a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old. Both were taken to Children's for check-ups.

The complaint states the 2-year-old had a healing scalp laceration and a bruise on her left cheek, as well as bruising on the right side of her abdomen. She also was reportedly found to have had a grade 3 liver laceration and was taken to the pediatric intensive care unit. 

According to the complaint, the 6-year-old said Butts has choked his mother, he and his siblings. He also said Butts intentionally put his feet on the 3-year-old when he was on the ground, stomping him.

The boy reportedly also said Butts has punched and choked he and his siblings.

"(The boy) explained Butts did that to them when they were bad or wouldn't stop crying," the complaint reads. "(The boy) said that Butts chokes them to knock them out - so they'll go to sleep."

Another resident of the home said the 3-year-old had thrown up early in the morning of Jan. 15, and that Butts had said the boy hit himself in the head will a cell phone charger while swinging the cord around - something the boy denied.

The boy reportedly continued to complain of stomach pain and being thirsty throughout the rest of the early morning, according to accounts in the complaint. And he was "in and out of sleep" most of the day.

He was then rushed to the hospital after he became unresponsive that afternoon.

The complaint states Butts denied abusing the children and said "no one knows if (the 3-year-old) fell and that God was the only one who knows what happened (to him)."

The complaint also stated four adults and three children live in the home.

He also allegedly told authorities a full-sized punching bag in the basement had fallen on the 3-year-old and 6-year-old about a week earlier. He also said he may have accidentally stepped on the children "once in the middle of the night," but denied ever stomping on them.

He also allegedly said he fell on the 3-year-old when they were wrestling, but "didn't think (the boy's) illness was associated with him falling on the boy."

Given the seriousness of the murder charge, bail was set at $1 million for Butts.  He has an extensive criminal history in Iowa, where he served time in prison for burglary and assault. 

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Frank Rajkowski & Beth McDonough

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