FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison after the 2018 death of a 5-year-old boy.
Daniel T. Pope, 29, pleaded guilty to aggravated battery after prosecutors agreed to dismiss a murder charge related to the March 2018 death of young Benjamin Otto McKinney-Frederick.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Fort Wayne Police were called to the home on reports that the child was not breathing on March 8. Pope and the boy’s mother were at the home at the time. Pope found the child lying on the bathroom floor around 12:30 p.m. Pope began CPR while he was on the phone with 911.
The boy’s mother told police that Pope asked her to change the boy’s soiled underwear and clean him up. She said that his body was warm to her touch and his lips were blue, according to court documents.
A doctor told investigators that there was “overwhelming evidence” that the child had been severely abused. According to court documents, his face had been beaten, he had pulmonary contusions consistent with blows to the chest and he had defensive wounds. Additionally, there were wounds on his chest, up and down the left side of his body and on his genitals, the report said.
Initially, the boy’s mother told police that she lashed out at him by hitting him with a belt on his legs and thighs. She also said she is the only person who disciplines him. She said the last time he was disciplined was on March 3.
However, in a follow up interview with police, she admitted that Pope does discipline the boy by whipping him. She said she witnessed Pope whip the 5-year-old with an HDMI cord and said she physically grabbed Pope’s arm to get him off of the boy. She said she has also heard the boy being choked and said he would call for her help as he was being choked.
She said she was scared of Pope because he also beats her. According to court documents, she told police Pope has punched, kicked, and choked her. She said she is scared of pope and that the abuse has happened multiple times over the last 8 months. She said Pope told her to lie to police about who disciplines her son.
McKinney-Frederick died on March 12. The coroner discovered the boy suffered from blunt force trauma injuries including a contused kidney, blood-filled lungs and abrasions under his chin, during an autopsy.
The cause of death was ruled to be Anoxic Encephalopathy due to neck compression and blunt force trauma. Anoxic Encephalopathy is when the brain does not receive enough oxygen.
The doctor confirmed that if he would have received medical attention sooner, the boy would have survived.
The boy’s death was ruled a homicide.