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Kenneth Charles-Alan Stringfellow will stand trial for murder in the December 2013 death of a toddler in Quincy.
At a Thursday, Feb. 13, pretrial hearing in Quincy, Plumas County Superior Court Judge Ira Kaufman ruled there was enough evidence against Stringfellow to justify a trial.
The arraignment was scheduled for March 7. No trial date has been set.
Stringfellow, 24, is accused of inflicting injuries that led to the death of 22-month-old Braylon Duguay on Dec. 13, 2013.
Stringfellow, who was the boyfriend of the toddler’s mother, was reportedly watching Duguay alone the day the child was fatally injured.
According to witness testimony during Wednesday’s hearing, the toddler’s mother, Demi Nicole Sullivan, was shopping in Reno on Dec. 11, 2013, when Stringfellow is accused of hurting the child.
After Sullivan returned to the couple’s apartment about 11 p.m., she reportedly was concerned about the way her son was acting. Sullivan called 911 at 1:21 a.m. when Stringfellow told her the boy didn’t have a heartbeat.
Stringfellow reportedly performed CPR before deputies arrived and took over the resuscitation effort.
Duguay was taken to Plumas District Hospital and later to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, where he died.
Stringfellow was arrested the evening of Dec. 12 after being interviewed by detectives. He was charged with murder when the toddler was pronounced dead the following day.
District Attorney David Hollister called five witnesses during the hearing.
He presented evidence that included a video of the boy at Plumas District Hospital. The video showed extensive bruising and bite marks on the toddler’s body.
Dr. Ellen Clark, a forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy, testified the boy died “due to multiple injuries of blunt force trauma.”
Clark said she didn’t think the injuries were caused by an accident. “They appear to have been inflicted,” she said. When the district attorney asked Clark if it was fair to say the toddler “was bruised from head to toe,” she responded “yes.”
She said that trauma to the head was the likely cause of death. However, the boy’s body also had bruising caused by human bite marks.
The video clearly showed the bite marks. Clark said there was evidence of bites to an arm, leg and “a minimum of 10 bite marks on the buttocks.”
Sheriff’s Detective Chris Hendrickson said Stringfellow admitted to biting the boy.
Stringfellow’s girlfriend, Sullivan, told detectives that Stringfellow had also bitten her on two occasions — once on the leg and once on the neck. She said both bites happened without warning.
Although Stringfellow admitted to biting the toddler as a form of discipline, he told detectives he never tried to hurt him.
He said Duguay fell at least twice the day he was watching him — once in the bedroom and later as he was giving him a shower. He said the toddler had also previously fallen at a playground.
Defense attorney Jeff Cunan argued the fall in the bedroom could have caused the boy’s head injuries. He said some of the bruises were similar in shape to toys and part of a dresser drawer that were on the bedroom floor.
Stringfellow told detectives that he was in the living room when he heard a “bang” sound in the toddler’s bedroom.
He said he went to the room and saw the boy on the ground. He said it looked like the toddler tripped over a stuffed animal and hit his head on the dresser. He said Duguay suffered a cut lip and a bump on the head.
Stringfellow said he sent Sullivan a text message at 3:34 p.m. to tell her what happened.
After cleaning the toddler’s lip, Stringfellow said he fed him. He said Duguay threw up twice after eating.
He said he then took a shower with the boy and the toddler fell and hit his head on the edge of the bathtub when they were getting out.
Stringfellow told investigators he then put the toddler to bed.
A man who lived in the apartment directly below Stringfellow testified that he heard crying coming from Stringfellow’s apartment about 5:30 p.m. The man said the crying lasted about five minutes. He said he then heard “a solid thump on the floor” of Stringfellow’s apartment. He said there was no crying after that.
Cunan noted that the man refused to be interviewed by the defense’s investigator. The man said he refused because he wanted his testimony to be heard in court. He added that people were angry with him for talking about the case.
The man said he has a son about the same age as Stringfellow’s own 5-year-old son. He said the boys played together, sometimes in Stringfellow’s apartment.
He told the court he had “no reason” to believe that Stringfellow was anything but a good father.
In his closing argument, Cunan emphasized that Stringfellow has been cooperative throughout the investigation. He said Stringfellow continued to answer questions without a lawyer present after he was read his Miranda rights.
He added Stringfellow agreed to take a polygraph test that detectives offered him, but that the test was never given.
Cunan said the bites were an “unfortunate” attempt at discipline. But he said there is nothing to show that Stringfellow did anything to cause the child’s death.
He said there is evidence that the child jumping off his bed could account for the sound heard in the apartment below. Cunan said the fatal injuries were likely caused by an accident by the child.
“Kenny’s position that he did not cause the death is a strong one,” Cunan said. He said Stringfellow is a good father to his own child and is “deeply” moved by Duguay’s death.
“I don’t believe there is any evidence to show that (Stringfellow) did this,” he said.
Moments later, Judge Kaufman ruled there was enough evidence for Stringfellow to be tried for murder.
Sullivan, 20, is also facing charges related to the toddler’s death. She is free on her own recognizance after being arrested Dec. 17, 2013,
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