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Boy Whose Death Led to Charges Against Parents and Grandmother Suffered Ongoing Abuse, Autopsy Shows

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — A 10-year-old boy whose death led to murder charges against his parents and a grandmother was malnourished, bruised and showed evidence consistent with ongoing abuse, an autopsy concluded.

Affidavits from Bangor police indicate Braxtyn Smith, of Bangor, endured food being withheld as punishment and being restrained with zip ties, as well as physical abuse including slaps to the head and being pushed down. The autopsy indicated he had evidence of brain bleeding and injuries consistent with being burned.

The boy died on Feb. 18 after he was brought to a hospital in Bangor, police said.

Arrested last week and charged with murder were his father and mother, Joshua Smith, 33, and Jem Bean, 35, and his paternal grandmother, Mistie Latourette, 56, all of Bangor, law enforcement officials said. They remained in at the Penobscot County Jail on Monday. Their attorneys did not immediately return telephone phone messages.

Former state lawmaker Bill Diamond called the horrifying information in the affidavits “difficult to accept.”

“Someone failed this little boy and we need to find out who so we can do a better job at preventing repeats in the future,” said Diamond, founder of Walk a Mile in Their Shoes, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing child homicides and child abuse in Maine.

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It’s unclear if the Maine Department of Health and Human Services was involved in the situation.

Spokesperson Lindsay Hammes said the agency is barred from commenting on the case but she confirmed that Bean is a DHHS administrative employee at Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Hospital in Bangor. Bean’s position does not involve direct patient care or interaction with children or the DHHS Child Protective Services, Hammes said.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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