Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Death of 6-year-old ruled a homicide



By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The death of a 6-year-old Miami Township boy has been ruled a homicide by the Hamilton County Coroner's Office, officials said Tuesday.

Brandon Lehn died of "homicidal violence." But because the case remains under investigation, Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Carl Parrott said he wouldn't comment further on the exact nature of Brandon's injuries.

Brandon's mother, Christina Miracle, carried his body out of her apartment on Feb. 6, screaming that he was dead and she needed help. She later was indicted on a child endangerment charge related to the condition of her apartment. The charge was not tied to Brandon's death.

Homicidal violence could mean any number of things, said Assistant Clermont County Prosecutor Daniel Breyer.

"At this point we can't say with 100 percent certainty what caused his death," Breyer said. "It was not natural, it was not a suicide."

Among the coroner's findings, Breyer said, was a pattern of bruises on Brandon's back consistent with him having been beaten. The child also suffered a torn upper lip.

Breyer said he would take the findings to the grand jury within a month, seeking additional charges against Miracle.

Miracle, 25, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity March 4. She is in a psychiatric facility, according to her lawyer. Based on a psychiatric evaluation, Clermont County Common Pleas Judge Robert Ringland has ruled her incompetent to stand trial, but will re-evaluate her competency later.

The coroner's ruling confirmed Brandon's father's worst fears. "I just wanted to think it happened and he didn't suffer," David Lehn said Tuesday. "He didn't do anything to deserve this."

Miracle and Lehn never married and shared custody of Brandon. He lived with his mother, but spent every other weekend with his father in Taylor Mill.

E-mail scoolidge@enquirer.com




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