STILLWATER, OK -- A man suspected in the murder of a three-year-old boy is behind bars. Jace Burgess died last week from a massive brain injury.
His mother's ex-boyfriend now faces a first degree murder charge.
Tulsa county prosecutors filed a first degree murder charge against Cody Sartin. Officers arrested Sartin at his sister's house in Stillwater Wednesday afternoon.
Jace was rushed to the hospital last week with a massive brain injury. Officers say he also had several bruises on his shoulders, thighs, forehead, chin, as well as a broken toe. He died June 16.
Investigators say Sartin was babysitting Jace, but he claims the child's injury was an accident.
Court records show Jace's mother filed a protective order against Sartin, after Jace was hospitalized. She claimed thatSartin was the only one home at the time of Jace's injury. And she also wrote that "a month ago Jace told me 'Cody shake me, 'and he has had 'accidents' when Cody is watching him." Jace's mother went on to say that the toddler had "new bruises that were not there when [she] gave him a bath earlier that evening."
Jace was buried on Monday. His family released a statement Wednesday after Sartin's arrest.
"Jace was an amazing child. He was born at 25 weeks, and many of his doctors did not believe he would survive. We were blessed to make him a part of our family and poured our lives into ensuring that he overcame every obstacle. When we celebrated his third birthday on June 5th, we were celebrating his life, his vitality, and the fact that he was not "special needs" as some have labeled him, but a happy, healthy, three-year-old boy. His mother, Leslie, was his biggest advocate, and we are all proud of the life that she gave him. That life was stolen from us. We loved Jace more than words can express, and our hearts are broken beyond repair. We are overcome with grief and sorrow, but we take comfort in the strength and support offered by friends and strangers. Admittedly, we are also angry, not only at the person who hurt our precious boy, but at ourselves. We allowed ourselves to be deceived. We believed lies and offered trust to someone who did not deserve it. Our prayer now is that the justice system will work to prevent any more innocent children from being harmed by this man, and that we might somehow honor Jace's life with our future actions."- Family of Jace Burgess
Two other women have protective orders against Cody Sartin. In court documents, Sartin's ex-fiancee and her roommate both accused him of threatening their lives, saying "their days were numbered."
There was another protective order filed against Sartin in Stillwater back in 2003, but it was only for three years and has expired.
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