Wallkill, NY – A New York man has been indicted for murder in connection with the brutal beating death of his girlfriend’s three-year-old son, according to police.
“I describe it as savage, catastrophic injuries,” Orange County District Attorney Dave Hoovler said during a court hearing on Tuesday, according to News 12. “You would expect those injuries from a severe car crash or extreme high fall.”
Xavier Johnson was just three years old when he was found lying in his racecar bed unresponsive and not breathing the morning of June 2, CBS News reported.
Xavier’s mother, Breanna Wilson, was at work, and her boyfriend, 23-year-old Gionni Sellers was babysitting the toddler, according to News 12.
Sellers had been watching the boy for days, CBS News reported.
A neighbor called 911 and police responded to Wilson’s apartment on Edward Diana Way and discovered Xavier’s horrifically abused body, according to WABC.
The 30-pound little boy suffered catastrophic injuries, most predominantly to his head, neck, and torso, CBS News reported.
Xavier was pronounced dead at a Garnet Health Medical Center, according to WABC.
Investigators said he had blunt force trauma that lacerated his liver multiple times, as well as broken bones, retinal bleeding, and brain damage, News 12 reported.
Hoovler said the evidence showed Xavier was abused for at least a week prior to being beaten to death.
NEW INFORMATION: Prosecutors say 23-year-old Gionni Sellers researched the effects of child abuse on his phone and what to do when a child is injured in the days prior to a ‘savage’ beating that caused a toddler’s death. The latest on this horrific case, coming up @ 5 on News 12. pic.twitter.com/Mn73MuAk4O
— Blaise Gomez (@BlaiseGomez12) December 27, 2022
“That day at the hospital, it was very clear to everyone involved that Xavier Johnson died an extremely terrible death and a savage death,” the prosecutor said, according to CBS News.
Sellers was ultimately charged with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter.
He faces a possible life sentence if he is convicted.
Prosecutors alleged during Sellers’ arraignment on Dec. 27 that he became angry when he learned Wilson had friended her ex-boyfriend on social media, News 12 reported.
They said investigators located searches on Sellers’ phone dating back to late May showing someone had looked up the effects of shaking a toddler and what to do when an abused child gets hurt, according to the news outlet.
“Things you shouldn’t do to a toddler,” “why do younger men want to hurt babies,” and “how to deal with a 3-year-old” were among the search topics, according CBS News.
“What to do if you shake baby too much” and “baby breathing heavy after being shook” were also terms that had been searched on Sellers’ phone, according to police.
Prosecutors said Wilson took Xavier to the doctor just days before his death because she thought he was sick, but that she did not know at the time that he was being abused, News 12 reported.
A source said Child Protective Services (CPS) was contacted at that time, but authorities would not comment on that claim because CPS investigations are confidential.
The judge set Sellers’ bail at $750,000 cash or $5 million bond.
In addition to the charges associated with Xavier’s murder, Sellers also had an outstanding warrant for domestic violence, News 12 reported.
After Xavier’s death, Sellers was arrested for additional domestic violence charges on two more occasions.
Both recent incidents involved the same female victim, according to News 12.
Police said one of the domestic violence charges has been dismissed and that the other two are still pending.
Investigators said Wilson and Sellers continued their relationship after Xavier’s murder, CBS News reported.
Sellers’ next court hearing is scheduled for Jan. 4.