Woman ‘tortured autistic boy, 4, leaving every inch of his broken body injured’

US News

A woman accused of torturing an autistic four-year-old leaving “every inch of his body with some type of injury” before he died could face the death penalty.

Crystal Stephens, from Las Vegas, Nevada, has been charged with 27 offences relating to the alleged torture and death of Brandon Steckler Jr last July.

Prosecutors announced last week they will pursue the death penalty against the 42-year-old after the child was found with multiple injuries at her home last year.

The boy later died in hospital.

If Stephens is convicted and sentenced to the death penalty then she would be the only woman on death row in Nevada, according to Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney, Jacqueline Bluth, Mail Online reports.

 

Ariel Watts with her son, Brandon

Ariel left her son and daughter in the care of Crystal

She is also accused of kidnapping, sexual assault on a minor and 24 counts of child abuse, neglect or endagerment.

Stephens was a friend of Brandon’s family – however the child’s mother, Ariel Watts, claims she refused to return him for three weeks before his death.

Although Brandon passed away last summer, an exact cause of death is yet to be identified because of the extent of his injuries, according to the prosecutor.

The medical examiner’s grand jury transcript stated that it was “fair to say that pretty much every inch of this child had some type of injury”.

 

Brandon Jr died from multiple injuries

The 42-year-old could face capital punishment if she is convicted of the crimes

Brandon, who cannot speak, had a broken collarbone, a lacerated liver, collapsed lung, malnutrition, sepsis and pneumonia.

Meth was also discovered in his system, and he had bruises, burns, injuries inside his mouth and on the arm and 27 rib fractures.

Stephens allegedly told police that Brandon and his sister had been staying with her because their mum was living in a domestic violence shelter.

Brandon’s father, Brandon Steckler Sr

Brandon Sr raised money with fellow Navy cadets for his son’s burial

Ariel claims she was only made aware her son was in hospital by an email sent from Child Protective Services.

It is understood that Ariel will not face any charges as it is believed she was unaware the child was being harmed, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Brandon’s father, Brandon Steckler Sr, raised funds for his son’s funeral alongside fellow Navy veterans.

He would not comment on the case following advice from his lawyer.

He said: “No parent, no father, expects to bury their child.”

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