A woman and her boyfriend have been indicted on new charges, including capital murder, in the death of a 1-year-old child two years ago.
Crystal Ballenger, 24, the child’s mother, was indicted on charges of sexual torture, capital murder of a child, and capital murder during sexual abuse. She originally charged with aggravated child abuse.
Her boyfriend, Jeffrey Hugh Brown, 38, was also indicted on the same charges. Both Ballenger and Brown appeared before Cullman County circuit judges Friday to learn of the new charges. They are being held without bond in the Cullman County Detention Center.
An autopsy in the death of 1-year-old Hoss Wayne Benham was released in August and shows the child suffered 89 injuries. Cullman County District Attorney Wilson Blaylock pledge to see capital murder charges after reviewing the autopsy.
“It’s really unbelievable and just hard to read what happened to this infant child. His last 36 hours were spent in horror and pain,” Blaylock said after reading the report.
Blaylock said the autopsy details the 89 injuries to the child’s body.
Among the findings of the autopsy, the child suffered 38 injuries to the head and neck from blunt-force trauma; four injuries each to the left and right eyes; 19 to the legs and arms; six to the torso; seven to the genitalia and anus; seven burns to the right foot and four burns to the left foot.
The child died March 11, 2014, on his first birthday. Ballenger and Brown were arrested a few days after the death and have remained incarcerated since that time.
Capital murder carries a penalty of life in prison without parole or death.
Benham was pronounced dead at Cullman Regional Medical Center after Ballenger and Brown took the child to the hospital, where multiple injuries were discovered.
Culled from Cullman times