Dad CHAUNCEY ROBINSON is something of a n'er-do-well, given that he's been arrested 15 TIMES before. But a little thing like a long arrest record doesn't keep you from getting visitation with a defenseless child, at least not in Hillsborough County, Florida. So back in February 2008, Dad picked up his 22-month-old son for his regular weekend visitation. Then Dad asked the boy's mother "if he could keep their son for longer." Mom, who was initially glad that Dad was taking an interest in the boy, agreed. The weekend visit soon stretched to two weeks, and the little boy STILL wasn't returned. Then Dad told her he was keeping the boy because he was "soft" (a 22-month-old toddler?). Then the story changed, and the boy had gone to Dad's mother, the paternal grandmother. That story turned out not to be true.
So what did happen? It seems very likely at this point that good old Daddy murdered the child, who suffered a fatal head blow so severe that his swelling brain cut off all bodily functions. Daddy is now on trial.
WHY DO DADS WITH CRIMINAL RECORDS GET VISITATION WITH TODDLERS? This death was absolutely unnecessary and preventable.
At trial, mother describes seeing child who died
Michael Van Sickler, Times Staff Writer
Posted: Dec 08, 2009 01:43 PM
TAMPA — Shantil Galloway wiped away tears as she described the injuries to her 22-month-old son, Chevon, who died after nearly two weeks in custody of his father early last year.
It was the first day in the trial of Chauncey Robinson, 27, who is charged with first degree murder, and two counts of aggravated child abuse. If he's found guilty, he would serve life in prison.
Galloway described to the jury the bandage on the boy's head and bruises and scratches to his hand when she saw him, dead, in a hospital bed at St. Joseph's Hospital on Feb. 13, 2008. The last time she saw her boy alive was on Feb. 1, when Robinson picked him up for the weekend. Chevon had no injuries when she said goodbye to him, she said.
"He was happy, playing around," Galloway said.
In an opening statement, assistant Hillsborough County state attorney Dawn Myers said Chevon's body was badly injured, with both clavicle bones broken "completely in half" and broken ribs. An autopsy showed that the bones were healing incorrectly because they hadn't been set properly. But she said it was a fatal blow to the head that killed Chevon.
Robinson said he found Chevon in his bed having a seizure when he placed him on the floor and performed CPR on him.
Robinson, who had been arrested at least 15 times in Hillsborough before Chevon died, cooperated with police and even asked questions about how Chevon could have died, according to his attorney, Joe Kudia.
"You can imagine, he's pretty upset," Kudia said. "His son is dead, he's arrested for his murder. He's crying and wailing and threatening to kill himself, and yet he always cooperated with police."
It's a death that will raise many more questions than the evidence will explain, he said.
"You'll learn what caused the death, but you won't learn beyond a shadow of a doubt who killed Chevon," Kudia said.
Tampa man on trial in toddler son's death
By TOM BRENNAN The Tampa Tribune
Published: December 8, 2009
TAMPA - The blow that killed 22-month-old Chavon Robinson was so severe that the swelling of his brain cut off all bodily functions, authorities said.
Prosecutors point the finger of blame at Chavon's father, Chauncey Robinson, 27, saying he was trying to toughen up the toddler.
"Chauncey Robinson is responsible for Chavon Robinson's death," Assistant State Attorney Dawn Myers told a Hillsborough County jury during opening statements today in Robinson's murder trial.
But defense attorney Christopher Watson said his client isn't to blame. He said many of the injuries predated the time Robinson picked up his son from the boy's mother.
"Mr. Robinson is a caring and loving father," he said. "At every step of the way, Mr. Robinson has attempted to cooperate with police and find out who caused his son's death."
Robinson is charged with first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated child abuse in Chavon's death Feb. 13, 2008. His trial is expected to last through the week.
Robinson and his girlfriend said the boy was asleep in the bedroom of their apartment while she paid bills and he played video games. They said they heard Chavon make a loud noise and pulled him off the bed onto the floor, but that he stopped breathing.
Robinson and emergency medical technicians tried to resuscitate the boy.
An autopsy showed Chavon suffered a multitude of injuries, including breaks of both clavicle bones, lacerations of internal organs and internal bruising.
But Myers said it was a massive blow to the head that killed the boy.
She said Robinson picked up his son for a usual weekend visit on Feb. 1, 2008, and then asked his former girlfriend Shantil Galloway if he could keep their son for longer.
Galloway told authorities she agreed, glad Robinson was showing an interest in his son. But she said she grew worried when the boy wasn't returned.
Galloway told police that during a phone conversation with Robinson he said she was making their son soft and that he was keeping him to "toughen him up."
Galloway said she didn't know where Robinson lived but finally tracked him down and was told their son was with his paternal grandmother.
Later investigation showed that was false.
Watson said his client told the lie to separate Chavon's mother and his current girlfriend, who were about to come to blows.
Both sides agree the case will turn on medical evidence.
Watson told jurors that the testimony might not answer all the questions.
"I think this week you will learn how Chavon Robinson died, but I don't believe you will learn who killed Chavon Robinson," he said.