Three West Virginia family members will face three separate trials in connection with the death of a five-year-old boy, who was brought to a hospital last year covered in wounds and ultimately succumbed to a catastrophic brain injury.
Peter Wodzinski, 32, and Chasity Wodzinski, 29, and Michelle Boggs, 48, have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian stemming from the March 2020 incident.
Troopers were called to investigate on March 18 when five-year-old Keaton Boggs was taken to J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown suffering from what was described by doctors as irreversible head trauma, numerous bruises and a laceration on his genital region. He died two days later.
Michelle Boggs, 48, will be tried separately from her co-defendants in connection with the March 2020 of her five-year-old grandfather, Keaton Boggs
Like Michelle, Peter Wodzinski, 32 (left), and Chasity Wodzinski, 29 (right), have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian
Michelle Boggs, Keaton’s maternal grandmother, Chastity Wodzinski, his aunt, and Peter Wodzinski, his uncle by marriage, blamed the deceased child for inflicting the injuries on himself through self-harm.
Harrison Assistant Prosecutor Gina Snuffer has said that Keaton had bleeding on the brain and on his eyes, bruising to his head and face, his collarbone and neck, and injuries to both his ears, reported WV News.
Doctors at the hospital also discovered a 4-centimetre cut to his penis, injuries to his testicles and to his inner thigh.
Snuffer said the many injuries were both old and new.
According to prosecutors, the abuse targeting Keaton intensified over the course of several months, during which his guardians skipped medical appointments and sometimes covered up the five-year-old’s wounds with makeup.
WCHS reported that Michelle Boggs and Chasity and Peter Wodzinski started caring for Keaton in June 2019, after his father, Christopher Boggs, died of a drug overdose.
Keaton’s biological mother, Jessika Bishop-Holt, had been stripped of parental custody and visitation rights over her battle with drug addiction, reported The Sun last year.
Keaton died at a West Virginia hospital on March 20, 2020, two days after he arrived suffering from catastrophic brain damage and a slew of injuries, including a cut on his penis
Even after the woman said she had been sober for a year, Michelle would not allow her to see Keaton.
Just weeks before Keaton’s death, calls were made to the Department of Health and Human Services about the child’s treatment.
During a pre-trial conference on Friday, Judge James Matish agreed to defense attorneys’ requests to sever the defendants’ trials, meaning that each person will be tried separately.
Peter will be tried first on March 1, followed by his relatives on March 29 and April 19.
Prosecutors have offered Boggs and the Wodzinski couple to plead guilty as charged and throw themselves on the mercy of the court, but they rejected the idea. If convicted, they could face up to a life in prison.
State police reportedly have extracted images and text messages from Michelle Boggs and Chasity Wodzinski’s phones, which prosecutors are expected to use during trials to show that Keaton was abused.
The prosecution’s theory appears to be that the trio of relatives had concocted a plot to cover up the abuse by making it seem like Keaton had been self-harming months before his death, but one of the defense lawyers dismissed this suggestion.