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Boyfriend charged in toddler's death often called him crybaby

A West Englewood man charged in the death of a 20-month-old boy who was shook, choked and slammed into a dresser often called the toddler a crybaby and thought he needed toughening up, authorities said.

Vernon Henry, 26, of the 6600 block of South Paulina Street, was charged with first-degree murder after the boy, Adonta McCoy, died Saturday afternoon at Comer Children's Hospital, police said. Henry was ordered held without bail in a hearing Sunday.

The boy was found in critical condition just before 8 p.m. Thursday in the 6900 block of South Cornell Avenue, police and fire officials said. Henry had shaken and choked the toddler and had slammed him into a dresser, according to court records.

Initial reports from Police News Affairs said the boy also suffered burns to the face and chest.

Henry lived with the child's mother and thought he needed to be toughened up because he often cried, Assistant State’s Attorney Jacqueline Kwilos said Sunday at Cook County bond court.

The child’s mother left their home at about 9 a.m. Thursday and left Adonta in Henry’s care, Kwilos said.

Later that day, Adonta started crying and it irritated Hernry, according to Kwilos.
Henry lifted Adonta off the ground repeatedly and shook him violently, she said.
The child’s head snapped back and forth and his jaw snapped open and closed, Kwilos said.

Adonta continued to cry and Henry then choked the child, she said.
The child was gasping for air but still sobbing, Kwilos said, when Henry shoved him into a dresser.

Adonta suffered head and eye injuries and was lethargic and unable to keep his eyes open at that point, she said.

Henry then put McCoy in his bed and wiped bloody saliva away from the child’s mouth, Kwilos said.

Henry was acting panicked when the mother returned home and he told her the child had slipped and fell after a bath but that he was okay, according to Kwilos.
The mother looked in on Adonta, didn’t see any injuries and thought he was just sleeping, Kwilos said.

The mother heard Adonta breathing loudly in the early evening and could not wake him, Kwilos said.

She called 911 and Henry told her that they should say the boy fell and struck his head after a bath, according to Kwilos.

Adonta suffered severe brain injuries from a lack of oxygen, multiple abrasions and hemorrhaging in his eyes, Kwilos said.

Henry eventually admitted to shaking, choking and shoving the boy, she said.

The Illinois Department of Child and Family Services was investigating the mother regarding allegations of abuse related to the incident, said agency spokeswoman Veronica Resa. Police said the woman was later released without being charged.

The child welfare agency said it has not had any prior contact with the family. No other children were at the home.

rsobol@tribune.com

Twitter:@RosemarySobol1

geoffz@tribune.com

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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