GREAT FALLS — The parents of a 5-year-old Great Falls boy along with another man have been charged in the beating death of the boy, who had been taken to the hospital this summer with significant injuries and malnutrition, court records said.
Stephanie Grace Byington called 911 Wednesday morning to report her son wasn't breathing. Paramedics declared the child dead at the scene, police said.
He had been beaten, had been bleeding from the nose and mouth, had a gash in his head and may have had a broken leg, charging documents said.
The child's parents, Emilio Emmanuel Renova Sr., 30, and Byington, 31, made initial appearances in District Court Thursday on charges of deliberate homicide, criminal endangerment and felony assault on a minor, the Great Falls Tribune reported.
Racso James Birdtail, 22, was charged with deliberate homicide and evidence tampering. Officers saw him carrying bags to the garbage, including a bloody rag and alcoholic beverage containers, court records said.
They were arrested on warrants listing their bail at $500,000 each. District Judge Elizabeth Best increased Renova's bail to $750,000 because he was on probation.
None of them entered pleas. Court records did not indicate they had attorneys who could speak on their behalf.
Byington and another woman who was at the apartment, Teanna Small, told investigators they heard Renova and Birdtail beating the child in the bathroom, charging documents said.
Small said Byington left at one point because she was stressed because she was not supposed to have the boy and Child and Family Services were looking for him.
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When the boy was at the hospital in June, emergency department staff called Child and Family Services. They noted the child's 2-year-old sibling had almost no teeth because they were decayed and a 1-year-old sibling had extremely rotten teeth, prosecutors said.
The family left the hospital before the caseworker arrived. The state closed the case after being unable to find the boy, court records said.
The child's siblings are with Child and Family Services, Cascade County Attorney Josh Racki said Thursday.
Montana Department of Corrections records show Renova is on probation for a 2014 home invasion robbery in Billings.
Byington has a 2012 conviction for endangering the welfare of children in Yellowstone County. She was initially charged with kidnaping a 2-year-old and a 2-month-old child whose mother had asked Byington to watch the kids in a vehicle while the mother went into a store, The Billings Gazette reported in March 2013. At the time, Byington had lost custody of her two children.
FBI agents are aiding in the homicide investigation.
Information from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com