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Man accused of malicious punishment of child

A 22-year-old Austin man who allegedly injured his girlfriend's 2-year-old son on New Year's Eve made his first court appearance Monday.

Benjamin Isaiah Waidler Stayton, of 304 First Ave. N.W., Apt. 1D, has been charged with felony malicious punishment of a child-under 4 years of age.

His next court appearance is set for March 15, when he is expected to make a plea.

According to the criminal complaint, Austin police were called to Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin about 10 p.m. Jan. 1 on a report of suspected child abuse. Hospital staff told the officer that the boy had unusual bruising inside his ears.

The child's grandmother discovered the injuries that evening, the report says, and told his mother about them. The mother believed the injuries had to have happened after 10 a.m. Dec. 30, the last time she'd bathed the child and cleaned his ears.


According to the complaint, the victim had dark blue/purple bruises at the top inside of his ears. In addition, the officer saw a bump on the boy's forehead and one on the back of his head.

During the investigation, detectives learned Stayton had watched the child for about an hour and a half on New Year's Eve, while the mother ran an errand. Also at the home was Stayton's 5-year-old child.

The victim's mother said while on the errand, her car wouldn't start; when Stayton didn't answer her phone calls, she called a friend to jump her battery, then arrived home about 11:15 p.m.

The woman said when she walked in the door, she heard her child screaming and went into the bedroom, where she saw Stayton holding the victim over the crib. She told the detective she was upset with the way Stayton was holding the boy and took the child from him.

The woman and Stayton, who had been dating about a month, went out the night of Jan. 1; the woman asked her mother to watch the child.

When the child's grandmother called to report the injuries that night, Stayton reportedly accompanied the family to the emergency room. According to the report, he spoke briefly with an officer at the hospital, then left and refused to return, saying "the cops are still there," and he didn't want to get caught for driving without a license.

A few days later, the complaint says, the boy's mother awoke to find Stayton on her computer; when she later checked the computer's history, it showed a search of "Can the police question a minor child without the parent's consent?"

When the woman confronted Stayton about the search, he "talked around the question" and didn't give an answer, the report says. She told Stayton she was going to meet with the police and advised him if he had anything else to tell her, "he better do it now."


That's when Stayton told her he was thinking about what may have happened and now remembered that he was "chasing" the victim around the kitchen table, picked the child up, then slipped on a coloring book.

According to the complaint, Stayton said he fell, which caused the victim's head to hit the wall, and Stayton's head to hit the victim's head.

If convicted of the charge, Stayton faces up to five years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.

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