Baltimore Sun

Relatives charged in death of teen

Boy’s aunt and uncle facing manslaught­er, child abuse counts

- By Phil Davis

Baltimore Police have arrested two people and charged them with child abuse resulting in death and manslaught­er as the department says an aunt and uncle fatally abused a 15-yearold who died in January.

Stefanie Colon, 32, and Dion Ball Sr., 44, were arrested Friday and face multiple charges related to the death of Hezekiah Pettiford, a 15-year-old who died Jan. 28, authoritie­s said in a news release.

According to the police department, Eastern District officers responded Jan. 26 to a report of child abuse in their district and found Pettiford unresponsi­ve and being treated by medical profession­als.

When officials took Pettiford to the hospital to be treated, the teenager was 5 feet 3 and weighed 75 pounds, “indicating severe malnutriti­on,” charging documents show.

Pettiford was placed on life support and “showed signs of old and new injuries” while being treated, charging documents state.

The 15-year-old died two days later on Jan. 28, police said.

The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office ruled March 17 that the teenager’s death a homicide

When officials took Hezekiah Pettiford to the hospital to be treated, the teenager was 5 feet 3 and weighed 75 pounds.

by blunt force trauma to the brain and found his injuries to be “consistent with chronic child abuse, charging documents state.

When questioned by investigat­ors, Ball and Colon said they were Pettiford’s aunt and uncle and that the boy was autistic and suffered from ADHD, according to charging documents.

The couple told investigat­ors that Pettiford had come to live with them in October 2019 after the teenager’s guardian died due to illness.

As to Pettiford’s fatal injuries, the two told investigat­ors that the teenager was refusing to go to sleep Jan. 25 and that, while Ball was attempting to get him to go to bed, “Hezekiah threw himself on the floor and bumped his head on a pillow that was on the floor,” charging documents state.

After the teenager fell asleep, the two said, he did not respond to multiple attempts to wake him in the following hours, prompting Colon to call 911 around 4 p.m., charging documents state.

Police wrote in charging documents that the couple’s statements were inconsiste­nt with Pettiford’s injuries. Police also said that unnamed witnesses stated that the teenager “did not at any time display behavior that would harm himself ” and that they were not allowed to visit the minor when they asked Colon and Ball. Charging documents do not state how the witnesses were related to Pettiford.

Police obtained arrest warrants for Colon and Ball on Aug. 30 and detectives arrested the two Friday, the department wrote. The department did not release any further details as to the nature of the abuse.

The two face charges of child abuse resulting in death, which carries a maximum term of 40 years in prison, as well as manslaught­er, assault and neglect of a minor.

Online court records did not list any attorneys as representi­ng either Colon or Ball as of Monday.

Colon is scheduled to have a preliminar­y hearing Oct. 5 while Ball’s is scheduled for Oct. 7.

Last month, police arrested 28-year-old Jamerria Hall and charged her with the murders of her 6-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son after their bodies were found in a Southwest Baltimore apartment.

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