Over a few months last year, 3-year-old Charles "Mike Mike" Bradley was beaten, shaken and punched so hard that he flew through the air in what a longtime Anne Arundel County prosecutor said was the worst case of fatal child abuse she has prosecuted in 24 years.
Andre Clay Russell Jr., 29, of Severn, admitted Wednesday that he inflicted the fatal abuse last summer to the son of his former girlfriend. Russell pleaded guilty before Judge Paul A. Hackner to child abuse resulting in death and child abuse. Assistant State's Attorney Kathleen Rogers said she intends to seek the maximum sentence, 55 years, for Russell. No sentencing date has been scheduled.
Rogers said the abuse was noticed by several people between April or May 2009 and last August, but it was not reported to authorities.
Russell lied about the child's injuries when questioned, sometimes giving different explanations to different people for the same injury, according to Rogers' courtroom statements.
Russell's lawyer, Jason Silverstein, did not contest the account, and declined to comment on the case. In court, he said his client was diagnosed as depressed and was taking medication.
Rogers said that after reviewing records of the injuries, Mitchell Goldstein, a child abuse expert at Johns Hopkins Hospital, said the child's abdominal injuries were akin to being run over by a car. A forensic examination revealed broken ribs, damage to internal organs, a fresh, large wound to the back of the head, and signs the child had been severely shaken — injuries that did not fit Russell's explanations, Rogers said. Dr. Anna Rubio, an assistant medical examiner, believed the "injuries to the child's head alone would have been fatal," Rogers said.
The prosecutor said Russell initially told police the child had fallen. A few weeks later, he told them that intruders seeking drugs took the boy from the house and left him by the air conditioner.
Russell and the child's mother, Orielle Baker, had a relationship between November 2008 and May 2009. According to Rogers, the mother said she recalled seeing bruises on the boy's legs in April or May.
Baker spent much of the ensuing months hospitalized, and Russell moved with the child into the basement of a Severn home, where a 10-year-old girl living in the upper part of the house saw much of the abuse, Rogers said.
On Aug. 7, Russell told a neighbor that the boy was not breathing. An ambulance took him to Anne Arundel Medical Center, and from there he was taken to Hopkins Hospital, where he died five days later.
Russell's prior convictions include theft, burglary and possession of drugs with intent to distribute, and he is listed on the state's Sex Offender Registry as a child sex offender.
The child's mother was not in court Wednesday because she recently gave birth, but she is expected to attend the sentencing.