Nye County prosecutors might seek the death penalty for a 16-year-old Pahrump boy accused of beating the toddler of his 28-year-old live-in girlfriend.
Danny Ernest Linville will be tried as an adult on attempted murder and child abuse charges in connection with the Tuesday incident, which left a 2-year-old boy in a coma, Nye County District Attorney Bob Beckett said Friday.
The toddler suffered bruising “all over his body,” including around his eyes, genitals and rectum, and one of his pupils is “blown out,” he said.
The child suffered extensive brain damage and was in critical condition at University Medical Center, he said.
If the child dies, prosecutors will seek the death penalty, he said.
“This is turning into the most disturbing case that I’ve handled in 14 years as a prosecutor in Nye County,” Beckett said. “It’s extremely tragic and very, very sad.”
According to the Nye County Sheriff’s Office, Linville had been watching the 2-year-old while the child’s mother, Michaele Christine Griffin, was away.
Authorities said Linville told them he was helping the child brush his teeth and became irritated when the child bit him. He struck the child in the forehead with the heel of the palm of his hand, sending the child tumbling into the bathtub and corner wall, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Linville then left the apartment, leaving the child in the care of a 14-year-old who was there, authorities said.
Linville went to another neighbor in the apartment complex, and another neighbor called the mother and sheriff’s deputies, according to authorities.
The 2-year-old was taken to UMC with critical injuries.
Griffin, who authorities said had a live-in, dating relationship with the teen, was arrested on three counts of felony child abuse for being aware of previous abuse and for leaving the child with the 16-year-old, authorities said.
The 14-year-old boy was arrested as a juvenile and charged with accessory to child abuse, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Beckett said neighbors had seen Linville slap and pull the child’s hair, and he said the child has old and new bruises on his body.
Linville was not the father of the boy, Beckett said. Because Linville is 16, the age of consent in Nevada, his relationship with Griffin was not illegal, he said.
Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0440.