Editor's note: Some of the information presented in this story is graphic and might be disturbing to some readers.
The mother of Buck McCoy II testified Thursday the boy seemed healthy and happy when he left on a walk with her boyfriend, Chester Marion Bell IV.
But that quickly changed when she said Bell returned a short time later with the child limp and unresponsive. Lauren Crnkovic, the 2-year-old boy's mother, said a small abrasion on McCoy's throat turned into a much larger, bloody abrasion when Bell brought her son back to the house.
Charged with capital murder, Bell is accused of knowingly causing the death of the child by striking him with his hand, an unknown object or against an unknown object. He faces life in prison without parole if convicted of capital murder.
“This was the most violent death I've seen of a child in my practice,” said Dr. Linda Thompson, the Cook Children's Medical Center pediatric intensive care unit physician who examined McCoy when he was taken to Fort Worth.
Thompson said she believed severe brain injury would have been immediately incapacitating and rendered McCoy unconscious.
“This degree of injury couldn't have happened several days ago,” Thompson said, adding that based on Crnkovic's history of the incident, she believed the injury happened while the boy was outside the house.
The bloody tears, laceration and fissures on McCoy's anus appeared very recent, according to Rebecca Sullivan, a forensic nurse with the Child Advocacy Resource and Evaluation team at Cook Children's Medical Center.
“These would be injuries consistent with penetrating trauma,” Sullivan testified, adding that she believed the boy had been sexually assaulted.
Though McCoy was swabbed for DNA, investigators did not find any, according to testimony.
“I was concerned it was a bite mark,” Sullivan said about an arching bruise over McCoy's genitalia, though no teeth marks were reportedly apparent.
Sullivan also reported documenting multiple bruises and abrasions across McCoy's head, neck, chest, abdomen, right side, back, buttocks, genital area and legs.
The bruises were seemingly in different stages of healing, Sullivan said.
Crnkovic told the jury she had told Bell not to spank McCoy again after Bell left a large bruise on McCoy's left buttock after reportedly disciplining the boy several days earlier.
After taking the boy's diaper off to treat eczema and leaving for the store, Crnkovic said she received a call from Bell saying he believed the boy, who was not toilet-trained, had purposefully relieved himself on the floor.
Bell also reported an injury to McCoy's chin earlier in the week, according to Crnkovic.
He told her the boy had fallen near a coffee table at a friend's house, Crnkovic testified.
The day of the incident, Crnkovic said she was in the shower while Bell watched McCoy eat lunch.
“While I was in the shower, Cuatro [Bell] came in and said … 'He's not swallowing his bites, what do you want me to do?'” Crnkovic said.
Crnkovic said she told Bell to remind him to swallow but Bell came in a second time about the issue before telling her he was going to take the child on a walk.
She dressed her son, bundled him against the cold and put his boots on him, Crnkovic testified.
“He grabbed Cuatro's hand and they walked to the door,” Crnkovic said.
A short while later, Bell burst in the door, yelling and holding McCoy's limp body, according to her testimony.
Crnkovic said she attempted the Heimlich maneuver when Bell told her he was choking and McCoy vomited but remained unresponsive as she then attempted CPR.
She told him to call 911 but Bell did not want to, Crnkovic testified.
“I kept thinking you got to work, you're going to lose him,” Crnkovic said. “I'm thinking this isn't choking, this isn't like choking.”
After EMS personnel arrived, Crnkovic said she and Bell argued about whether Bell had overdosed the boy on cough medicine for his cold.
The next day, her son was pronounced brain dead in Fort Worth, Crnkovic said.
“He was very bright,” Crnkovic said about McCoy. “He liked things done a certain way. [He was] outgoing, smart … He was a perfect child.”
Testimony was scheduled to continue today in the 29th State District Court before Judge Jerry Ray.
Index staff writer Christin Coyne can be reached at (940) 325-4465, ext. 3428, or email@example.com.