Man stands trial over severe burn injuries to 15-month-old

YOUNGSTOWN — Devontay M. Anderson, 23, went on trial Tuesday on one count of felony child endangering and is facing allegations that he failed to protect a 15-month-old boy he was babysitting last November on Youngstown’s North Side.

If Anderson is convicted, he could get several years in prison. Visiting Judge W. Wyatt McKay, a retired Trumbull County Common Pleas Court judge, is presiding over the case.

The boy’s mother entrusted the care of the boy to Anderson while she went to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles to take her driver’s test Nov. 15, 2023, Katherine Jones, assistant county prosecutor, said in opening statements to the jury.

When she returned, her son had severe burns to his feet and legs, Jones said.

“He failed in his duty to provide care, protection and support” to the boy, Jones said.

Anderson had watched the boy in the past, and the mother paid him for his services.

Anderson called the boy’s mother before she got home, asking her to return, saying the “boy’s feet were red,” Jones said.

The mother and two friends got there and found the boy crying and the skin “blistering off of his feet. They found skin and blood on the floor, and nobody had called 911 at that point,” Jones said.

“The only person at the house was (the boy) and the defendant,” Jones said. The mother called 911. On the call, the boy’s mother could be heard yelling at Anderson for allowing the boy to be injured.”

The boy was flown by helicopter to the burn unit of the main campus of Akron Children’s Hospital, where he was treated for second-degree and third-degree scald burns to over 18% of his body, Jones said.

“The defendant also gave detectives a couple of different versions of events,” she told the jury. “In one story, (the) defendant said he was playing on his phone when (the boy) started screaming.

“The defendant said he found the 15-month-old in the bathroom with water overflowing from the sink and (the boy) sitting in a puddle. Later, the defendant says he may have fallen asleep. And not once when the defendant saw the significant burns to (the boy’s) feet did he call 911.”

She said Anderson was “reckless when he failed to supervise the 15-month-old.”

Aaron Meikle, Anderson’s attorney, told the jurors the key question in the case will be who is responsible for the boy’s injuries. Meikle said it is not Anderson.

Meikle said it is “horrible what happened” to the boy. Anderson was at the apartment that day, “but what you are going to have to decide” is who was responsible that day for taking care of the boy, “making sure (the boy) was safe.”

Meikle did not say who he thinks is responsible for the injuries, but “someone is.”

On the 911 recording, the boy’s mother is heard asking for an ambulance, saying “I need the ambulance right away” and saying her son’s “feet are really burned” and mentions a babysitter.

Then the woman yelled loudly “What happened to my son” and then continued to yell at someone else in the house for a long time, while ignoring the call taker. At one point the mother said, “Yea, he was watching my (expletive) baby.”

Youngstown police officer Michael Bodnar testified that when he responded to the home, the boy’s mother told him the boy was left at home with Anderson. The boy already had been taken to the hospital when Bodnar arrived.

The women in the home showed the officer “what appeared to be a large quantity of skin left on the trunk lid of a car in the driveway,” he said. Under cross examination by Meikle, Bodnar said he did not know how the skin got onto the car.

Patrolman Gregory Tackett testified to being at the home after Bodnar, and his job was to preserve the scene, making sure no evidence was disturbed, he said. When Tackett went inside the house, Anderson was there.

He said Anderson informed him the boy had burned his legs in a bathroom in the rear of the home. When Bodnar and Anderson walked to that area, there was a mop and bucket, and the bathroom was “mopped up and cleaned up.” Bodnar said the floor was “still damp.”

Bodnar said there was a “ring of skin” on the floor “that appeared to have been burned off of someone’s foot.”

Tackett said he was with Anderson for about an hour during which Anderson “advised me that the juvenile climbed up on the sink and then they apparently turned on the hot water and burned himself.” Tackett said Anderson said he was the person watching the boy.

Tackett was asked to leave the home, but a short time later he was asked to go back. He was gone only several minutes, but when he returned, Anderson was gone. That is when Tackett located Anderson behind the house. Anderson ran, but was captured.

The trial resumes today and might be over by the end of the day, McKay said.

Have an interesting story? Email Ed Runyan at erunyan@vindy.com


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