MANATEE -- Knowellan Kelly last month suffered traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries, likely after he was violently shaken and had his head slammed onto a bed or other padded furniture, investigators say.
The injuries, suffered while in the care of his mother's boyfriend, led to seizures and eventually fatal brain swelling for the 15-month-old boy.
Deputies were called to Manatee Memorial Hospital last month regarding suspicious circumstances involving Knowellan. The child was being treated at the hospital before being transported to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, where he died the next day, Dec. 13.
Knowellan's autopsy and exams performed at the hospital revealed 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, and that he died from the inflicted trauma, according to a report from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
The boy was with John Stewart, boyfriend of Knowellan's mother, Danake Crawford, when the symptoms began.
Stewart, 37, was arrested Wednesday afternoon and charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child.
"We don't anticipate any additional arrests," said sheriff's office spokesman Dave Bristow.
Investigators say the traumatic injuries Knowellan suffered had to have occurred on Dec. 11, two days prior to his death, when he and his three siblings were with Stewart while their mother was at her new job. Stewart would watch the four children at her father's house.
Stewart told investigators that between 11 a.m. and noon, he heard noise coming from the room where
Knowellan was. He claimed he went to check on him and Knowellan was having a seizure, according to the sheriff's report.
Instead of calling 911 or rushing the boy to a doctor, Stewart took pictures of the boys as he was seizing and sent them in Facebook messages to Crawford. The messages, later obtained by the sheriff's office with a subpoena to Facebook, included photographs:
The first had a photograph that shows the other three children sitting at a table in the living room table eating and Knowellan off to the right with his head draped over an armrest.
The second shows the same scene but from another angle with Knowellan's face visible.
The third had a photo showing Knowellan sitting with a plate of food in front of him, his head tilted back, eyes closed and a piece of food on his lips. The message attached said, "Not really happy, but eating. He is getting worse, where is the medicine."
The fourth had a picture that shows Knowellan laying on a dark-colored chair with a his sister leaning over him with an odd look on her face.
The fifth had a picture that shows Knowellan having a seizure on the left side of a bed with the message attached, "I think Nolan just had a seizure ... He is back asleep now. It's not the medicine, I couldn't find it. I'll keep you updated."
The sixth had a message saying, "Found some medicine."
The seventh was a picture of Children's Ibuprofen.
The eighth message has a picture that shows Knowellan lying on his back on a bed, his head backwards, his eyes are closed, his right hand by his face, his left hand by his left leg and both knees are up with a message: "Resting comfortably now."
The messages and pictures were reviewed by the doctor from All Children's who concluded that Knowellan was already exhibiting symptoms of the traumatic brain injury in the first pictures. The doctor also said that the boy would have become symptomatic immediately after the injuries were inflicted.
Stewart and Crawford told investigators that the boy had been in good health that morning when she left the boys in his care. No one else was with Knowellan during the time that followed except Stewart and his siblings -- who the doctor says could not have caused the injuries.
Stewart hasn't been booked into the Manatee County jail, but he was expected to be held on $300,000 bond on the aggravated manslaughter charge.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.