In Michigan, Marcus Tulenkun Bolden is charged with open murder. He is not the dead child’s father. A trial is underway. One year-old Houston Mikell Curtis died from severe head injuries sustained during the evening and early morning hours of January 30-31, 2004. He passed away at DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI.   

Houston was a victim of child abuse. The severe head injuries he sustained occurred during a violent attack on him inside the Muskegon apartment of his mother, Crystal Bell. Crystal Bell testified that Marcus Bolden was angry with her because she was on the phone with the baby’s father, Jon Curtis. Curtis was in the U.S. Army at the time and was not living in the area. Bell denies witnessing any violent acts on the evening in question, but thought she heard a noise in another room. She checked on her child and didn’t see any indication of trauma. The baby was lying on the bed quietly when she checked on him. During the police investigation, Marcus Bolden admitted to throwing the baby on the bed, whereupon the baby bounced and struck the bedpost and wall. The impact to the child’s head resulted in a skull fracture and brain damage. He died less than two days after the crime. Hours later, Ms. Bell found her one year-old baby lying on her bed, with a very swollen head, his eyes open and excessive pooling of secretions from his mouth, difficulty breathing and a limp body. She called family members and 911. Little Houston was taken emergently to Mercy Health Partners Sherman Campus then transferred to DeVos Children’s Hospital.    

Presently, Bolden is in jail for an additional misdemeanor child-abuse conviction, but is now charged with open murder. During the trial, a witness, Tyrone Stuckey testified that he remembers the baby acting afraid of Bolden during his first birthday celebration with friends and family on Jan. 29, 2004. In fact, Stuckey was so concerned about the baby’s fear of Bolden, that he recommended Houston spend that evening with him and his family.   

Statistically, mothers have a tendency to abuse more frequently than male adults. However male adult abusers inflict more severe abuse outcomes. There is no single factor has been identified as the cause of child abuse. There is an interaction of multiple risk factors in the environment that place children at risk to be victims of abuse. Researchers have identified abusive parents or caregivers as having risk factors such as substance abuse, low self-esteem, mental or physical disability, depression, history of abuse as a child, poor coping skills, poor impulse control, history of violent behavior or history of being raised in a group setting with no positive parental role. All children are potential victims of child abuse, but some factors increase the risk for a child to be abused.  

Christopher Keane
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California Child Abuse and Child Injury Lawyer
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