Vt. man denies killing young boy
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A Hartford man denied a charge of second-degree murder Thursday in the death of a 2-year-old boy more than a year ago.
A prosecutor said an autopsy revealed the boy, who died in his sleep July 4, 2013, may have been punched in the stomach with brass knuckles.
Luke Theriault, 31, pleaded not guilty Thursday in White River Junction criminal court. He was ordered held without bail and returned to the Springfield prison until a “weight-of-evidence” hearing within 10 days.
Court records state that Theriault was living with Kayleigh Munyon and her son Jamaal Jayden Turkvan in July 2013, but he was not the boy’s father. Police said Theriault has three children of his own living in the area.
Investigators said family members were initially led to believe that Jamaal’s death might have been the result of a playground incident a few days before when he was hit in the head with a ball.
But medical examiners saw indications that the boy had been brutally beaten, police said, and detectives started what would become a yearlong investigation.
They said Theriault and Munyon were the only people in their apartment in the Hartford village of Wilder with the boy in the 24-hour period before the boy’s body was discovered.
Deputy State’s Attorney David Cahill told Judge Karen Carroll at Theriault’s arraignment Thursday that a series of indentations on the boy’s abdomen, and damage to internal organs, led medical examiner Dr. Jennie Duval to conclude he died from “multiple extremely forceful blows.”
Duval characterized the injuries as “exceptional beyond even what would be seen for a victim of a bicycle or automobile accident,” the prosecutor said.
Cahill told the judge that investigators said those marks and internal injuries could have been caused by brass knuckles, and Theriault’s cellphone contained a photo of Theriault with brass knuckles.
Hartford Police Detective Michael Tkac wrote in his affidavit that police and paramedics responding to a 911 call at the apartment on Bugbee Street in Wilder and finding Jamaal dead.
The responders were told the boy was not feeling well the previous day, and slept most of the day and barely ate.
The medical team tried to perform CPR and rushed Jamaal to the hospital, Tkac wrote, but there were indications that he may have been dead for some time.
A neighbor told police “she believed the victim, Jamaal, was afraid of Theriault because Jamaal cowered like he was scared when she saw him with Theriault,” the affidavit said.
After the hearing, Alisia Peach said that a decade ago when she was a teenager she had a two-year-long relationship with Theriault and a daughter with him. She said she was shocked but not surprised by the murder charge.
“I’m scared of him. He has major issues,” she said, “He needs anger management.”
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