MANATEE -- John Stewart, 37, charged with killing 15-month-old Knowellan Kelly, Thursday was ordered held in jail on a $500,000 bond.
Stewart, the boyfriend of Knowellan's mother, Danake Crawford, was arrested Wednesday and charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child. His arrest report detailed the abuse investigators say led to the child's death.
Knowellan's autopsy and exams performed at the hospital showed that the boy had seven broken ribs in different healing stages, a spinal fracture, complete disc laceration, bruises on his chest, fluid on the brain and brain bleeding, according to reports from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. The trauma was likely caused when he was violently shaken and had his head slammed onto a bed or other padded furniture causing seizures and eventually fatal brain swelling.
Knowellan along with his siblings were with Stewart when the symptoms began. The boy would have immediately started to show symptoms, so the inflicted trauma has to have to occurred immediately before, the reports stated.
On Thursday afternoon, Stewart appeared before Circuit Judge Scott Brownell for a first appearance hearing. Brownell increased his previously set bond to $500,000 after hearing from Assistant State Attorney Julie Binkley and Manatee County Sheriff's Office detective Steven Luke.
Binkley expressed concerns that Stewart could raise enough money to bond out and that with no family ties in the community he would be a flight risk. She also expressed concerns for the safety of the community.
"He does own his own home and he has a vehicle," Luke said. "But most of his ties are in New York."
Stewart interjected to say he rents his home, but the detective said that was not what Stewart had told them. Brownell, relying on Stewart's prior statement regarding his home, increased the bond from the previously set $300,000.
"I'm not sure it will make much of a difference for you," Brownell told Stewart.
Stewart was confused afterwards about his bond increasing. He had first asked Brownell if he would consider reducing it or releasing him on supervised release, which does not require a monetary bond.
"I am a disabled veteran, there's no way I can pay that," Stewart said.
Before the end of the hearing, Stewart was cautioned by the Public Defender's Office to not speak to anyone other than an investigators from their office regarding the facts of the case.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.