Man Pleads Guilty in Death of Girlfriend's Son

Published 03/11 2014 12:44PM

Updated 03/11 2014 06:36PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A man from Springfield admits he caused the death of a 2-year old who was left in his care nearly two years ago.

Austin Pelley, 23,  pleaded guilty this week to second degree murder for the death of Benjamin Garrison on June 15, 2012.

Benjamin "Benji" Garrison, 2,  was left in Pelley's care for about 45 minutes, according to prosecutors, while his mother went to take a final exam.

Prosecutors say during that time Pelley struck Benjamin several times resulting in facial bruises, a skull fracture, a subdural hematoma and retinal hemmorhages.

Doctors at Mercy Hospital tried to save Benji's life with emergency surgery. But the boy died of his injuries on June 17, 2012.

In the press release prosecutors say "The case was set to go to trial this week. However, the state entered into a plead agreement with Mr. Pelley" after recent revelations from Chelsea Garrison, Benjamin's mother. "Ms. Garrison admittedly misled police and prosecutors regarding the events of June 15th. These new revelations affected Ms. Garrison's ability to testify, but did not change the fact that Mr. Pelley is responsible for Benji's death."

At sentencing, Drew Garrison, Benji's father, made a victim impact statement in the courtroom. Prosecutor's say Drew Garrison says he has agonized over this "senseless death" and laments that he was supposed to have custody of Benji that weekend. 

Judge Thomas Mountjoy sentenced Austin Pelley to eleven years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. Pelley will be required to serve eighty-five percent of this sentence before he is eligible for parole.

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