BILLINGS - A Billings man has been charged after authorities determined the death of a young boy last year was the result of an abusive assault.
Kristopher Michael Harasymczuk, 37 years old, has been charged in Yellowstone County District Court with felony counts of assault on a minor and deliberate homicide. He was booked into the Yellowstone County jail on Thursday and has yet to be arraigned on the charges. Harasymczuk was set to appear Friday in Yellowstone County Justice Court on a warrant.
In charging documents, prosecutors allege Harasymczuk caused the death of a child identified only by the initial "J" in October of last year. Court documents state the child was born in 2017, but do not disclose a full birth date.
Harasymczuk is the child's stepfather and lived with the child, his two older siblings, and the children's mother, court records state.
The charges were filed following a lengthy investigation that included statements from the children's father, mother and siblings, as well as a medical examiner's report. The medical examiner's report indicated the child died as the result of brain swelling possibly caused by several factors, including drowning, hyperthermia, and blunt force head trauma.
Court documents state the death investigation began last October 22 when emergency responders and police went to a home on Woodgrain Drive for a report of an unresponsive child found in a bathtub.
The child's mother initially reported that the child had been taking a bath as she did laundry nearby and she checked on him every few seconds until she found him underwater. She pulled the child from the bathtub and started CPR, she said, while yelling for Harasymzck to take over while she called 911.
The child was later pronounced dead at St. Vincent Healthcare, court records state.
During an initial interview with a police detective, Harasymzck was reportedly found sobbing but "became immediately defensive and evasive" when asked if he would go to the police department for an interview, according to the court records.
During the interview, Harasymzck allegedly described finding the boy's mother with the child in the bathroom and taking over CPR while she called for help. He guessed the child fell back in the tub and possibly "took in too much water," he reportedly told police.
Police continued the investigation and later interviewed both the child's older siblings, who gave similar accounts of how they and "J" were often spanked, including spankings with a spatula, and disciplined by being "kicked down."
On the evening of the child's death, the oldest sibling said he saw his stepfather take his brother into the bathroom and heard banging and "spankins," court documents state.
During a second interview with the children's mother she told investigators that Harasymzck was physically abusive to her and her children, often hitting her when she tried to defend the children, she said. On the evening of the child's death, she said she saw Harasymzck take the boy into the bathroom and heard the boy yelling but was told by Harasymzck that the child was fine. She said she went to check on him when there was no sound coming from the bathroom and found him and pulled him form the tub.
Court documents state the woman said acknowledged her initial statement was false but she was scared of Harasymzck. She denied knowing what happened to her son in the bathroom.
Prosecutors also said that during the initial investigation at the home a detective ran the water in the bathtub and noted the water was "excessively hot." Emergency room records on the night of the child's death indicated a reported water immersion in water temperatures of 102 degrees.
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