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Father, aunt charged with murder in death of Wilson toddler

3 family members plead not guilty in death of 3 year old Wilson boy
3 family members plead not guilty in death of 3 year old Wilson boy
Published: Nov. 21, 2020 at 10:03 AM CST
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WILSON, Oklahoma (KXII) - The father and aunt previously accused of child abuse in the case of a three-year-old Wilson boy’s death are now being charged with first-degree murder by child abuse.

Three-year-old James Smith Jr. was brought to a Healdton hospital in July after his aunt called 911 saying he had fallen from his crib.

Police said the child had bruises from head to toe... and a fractured skull. He died that morning.

His father, James Daren Smith, and uncle, Frank Smith Jr., were arrested the next day for child abuse.

His aunt, Shannon Michelle Smith, was arrested for murder, but later the charge was reduced to child abuse.

Thursday the medical examiner’s office turned their autopsy report to the district attorney, who decided there was enough evidence to charge the child’s father and aunt with first-degree murder.

The boy’s mother, Kyla Burgess said the news gave her hope.

“This charge gives me a lot more hope,” Burgess said. “That the system isn’t going to fail my son this time, because they have in the past year. I want the courts-not only through the courts and through law enforcement, but through DHS-to open their eyes and realize they need to do their job correctly.”

Burgess says though this time has been difficult, she’s thankful for the support from her community.

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