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Mom’s boyfriend on trial for boy’s death

BELLEVILLE, Ill., Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Almost six years after an Illinois boy died, his mother's boyfriend has gone on trial charged with his murder.

Prosecutors opened their case against Lee Crutchfield, 39, Tuesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Paramedics summoned on Christmas Day 2005 to the house Crutchfield shared with Starr Lohman and her son, Ryon Smith, found the 6-year-old boy's battered body.

In the first two days of the trial in St. Clair County Circuit Court, jurors heard two versions of Ryon's last days.

On Tuesday, prosecutors played a videotape of Crutchfield's police interrogation in which he denied harming the boy. Lohman testified Wednesday that Crutchfield often shut Ryon in a closet and that he beat him.

Lohman said she had an agreement to plead guilty to aggravated battery of a child with a sentence of 15 to 30 years.

Crutchfield and Lohman gave opposite descriptions of Lohman. Crutchfield, who is black, told police six years ago that the boy, who was white like his mother, would often use racial slurs, while Lohman said she could only remember one and called her son a basically good child.

Dr. Raj Nanduri, a forensic pathologist, said Ryon had 57 injuries. She said the boy had clearly been dead for some time because decomposition had already started.

A police officer who responded to the house broke down on the witness stand Tuesday as he looked at a picture of Ryon's body, dressed in Spider-Man pajamas.

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

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