Beatings were a regular occurrence for Ja'Haad Wood after his family moved in with his mother's new boyfriend.
The autopsy couldn’t confirm if Ja’Haad’s many injuries — 53 separate blunt force injuries, a lacerated liver and scrapes and bruises in various stages of healing — caused his death in July 2015.
But there didn't appear to be anything else that could have caused the otherwise healthy 4-year-old to not wake up one day, according to the autopsy.
Steele is set to be sentenced June 10 for second-degree child abuse. He initially was charged with first-degree child abuse, but took a plea deal in early April.
The medical examiner could not determine Ja’Haad’s manner of death, part of the reason Steele could not be charged with Ja'Haad's murder.
Ja'Haad's mother, then-23-year-old Jessica Wood and Steele met in May 2015, just two months before Ja’Haad’s death, according to a Child Protective Services petition to terminate Wood’s parental rights.
While Wood worked, Steele, then 35, stayed home to watch the kids. He saw himself as the disciplinarian of the house and would often “whoop” the kids, according to the CPS report.
When reached for comment over Facebook messenger, Wood said she was not ready to talk about her son. She did, however, say Steele did not kill Ja'Haad.
For punishment, Steele often used the “belt, wall sits or a military time out,” according to the CPS report. When he used the belt, he would “tear that butt and them legs up...They get to jumping and flipping,” Steele told police in an interview after Ja’Haad’s death, according to the CPS report.
The autopsy report detailed bruising across Ja'Haad's body, scars and bruises on his face and lips and cuts on his thighs. His back was covered with scarring and bruises, as well as multiple loop marks from the belt Steele told police he used to discipline the kids, according to court records.
Steele had not been happy with Ja'Haad the day before his death, according to court records. He's texted Wood on July 26: "Ja'Haad been trying me all day. I’m about to beat his (expletive) again."
Ja'Haad's younger brother told Steele the 4-year-old had stolen SpaghettiOs off his plate, according to court records. Steele let Ja’Haad finish his meal, then “whooped” him seven or eight times, Steele told police, according to CPS records.
He made Ja’Haad go stand in the corner to finish his punishment. The boy told Steele he had to go to the bathroom, and on his way there, he threw up several times.
Steele told Ja’Haad to get back to the corner. Ja’Haad refused. “Who you telling no?” Steele said. He hit him again with the belt, according to CPS records, and put him back in the corner.
As Ja’Haad stood there, he began to fall asleep against the wall, something the kids were not allowed to do, according to CPS records. Steele pulled Ja’Haad away from the wall and for the third time that afternoon, hit him several times.
Ja’Haad slept on and off the rest of the afternoon and evening and threw up several more times, according to CPS records. Wood tried to talk to him when she came home from work, Steele told police, but Ja’Haad threw up several more times.
Wood, however, told police she didn’t notice anything unusual that night about Ja’Haad and saw no sign that he was sick, according to CPS records.
When Steele went to wake the kids up the next morning, he picked him up, and fluid came out of his mouth. Steele woke Wood up, saying: “Baby baby get up. Something wrong with Ja’Haad. He’s face down his body’s cold. Call the ambulance.”
Wood was confused at first. Then she asked: “What you do to my baby?”
The autopsy done on the 4-year-old boy couldn't determine if his injuries, including 53 blunt force injuries and a lacerated liver, caused his death.
I thought this was posted- if anyone finds an original thread please report