An Alabama man has been charged with capital murder for allegedly beating his girlfriend’s 1-year-old son to death, PEOPLE confirms.
Christopher Eugene Knight, 35, stands accused of killing Jayden McGee, according to a statement from Birmingham Police.
Jayden had only turned 1 on Feb. 28, and was the son of Knight’s girlfriend, 23-year-old Natasha McGee.
No known motive for the fatal violence has been disclosed.
Knight was initially detained Tuesday on aggravated child abuse charges. Those charges were upgraded to capital murder Thursday.
He is being held without bond and it was unclear if he had retained legal counsel who could comment on the allegations.
McGee tells the Birmingham News she was at work Saturday morning when she got a call from Knight. She had left Jayden in his care — something she’d done many times before, she claims.
“He called me saying [Jayden’s] barely breathing,” McGee told the paper. “I told him to call 911 but he wouldn’t. He said you need to come home and see about him.”
McGee rushed home, and “when I saw my son, I knew something was wrong. I could tell by the way he was acting.”
Paramedics were summoned to the home.
“He was alive, but he wasn’t saying anything,” she explained. “He was fighting to breathe. I knew he was still alive, but he wasn’t alert.”
Jayden was transported to a nearby hospital, where doctors determined his skull had been fractured and he had experienced a blood clot. Surgery was performed to stop the swelling in his brain.
But no surgery could save Jayden, she learned. Doctors said the damage to his brain was too severe. She sat at his bedside, and “I kept praying that he would get better,” McGee said. “I was telling him, ‘Hang in baby boy. Be strong.’ I was telling him I was sorry.”
The decision was made Tuesday to remove Jayden’s little body from life support. He died soon after being taken off the machines.
“It’s just been a nightmare,” McGee said to the Birmingham News on Wednesday. “Waking up today knowing that I can’t see him again, I’m just sad.”
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According to McGee, her son was always happy.
“He touched so many people’s hearts,” she said. “He just loved to play. He would smile and just brighten up your day … Jayden was a high-spirited baby. He was loving, and caring, and just a precious little baby boy whose innocent life was taken.”
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help cover the costs of Jayden’s funeral.
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