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Man charged in death of girlfriend's 2-year-old son

In the hours before the 2-year-old died, he suffered severe injuries: multiple bruises to his abdomen, massive internal bleeding and lacerations to his liver, pancreas and spleen.

In the hours before the 2-year-old died, he suffered severe injuries: multiple bruises to his abdomen, massive internal bleeding and lacerations to his liver, pancreas and spleen.

Julian James-Robert Williams died in St. Paul on Sept. 10, 2009, and police have been investigating ever since. On Monday, charges in the case were made public.

Demetrius Charles Willis, described by police as Julian's mother's boyfriend, faces seven counts of murder and manslaughter.

It appears that Julian's mother, Jessica Dominique Caldwell, could face charges, too.

Though a county attorney spokesman said he could not comment about whether charges against Caldwell are being considered, her grandmother said Monday: "She'll be there. She's surrendering herself with her attorney." She said she didn't want to talk further.


Willis, 23, was arrested Friday and made his first court appearance Monday. Bail was set at $500,000.

Rose Curtis, Willis' mother, attended the hearing and said afterward that she didn't know what happened to Julian but that her son "would never hurt a baby." She also said Julian was the "sweetest baby in the world."

The indictment didn't detail the allegations, though search warrant affidavits unsealed last year gave the following account:

Police were called to the 800 block of York Avenue on Sept. 10, 2009, at 5:06 a.m. about a child not breathing or moving. They found Willis, who identified himself as Caldwell's boyfriend, holding the


Caldwell and Julian came over the night before. Security video from the Metro Transit bus they rode showed the mother and son.

"Julian can be observed laughing and interacting with his mother and scampering about as a normal 2-year-old," the affidavit said. "There is no indication that he is injured or in pain."

Willis told police he and Caldwell watched a movie together while Julian slept in their bed.


Caldwell, 23, said Julian went to sleep at 10 p.m. the night before and woke up crying at 2 a.m. Julian told Willis and Caldwell that his stomach hurt, they gave him water and he went back to sleep, Willis told police.

The boy woke up crying again, this time a little before 5 a.m., Caldwell said. She said Willis picked up Julian and told her something wasn't right, so she called 911.

Willis also told police that after Julian woke up the first time, he heard the boy make "some faint cries and he patted Julian on the back," the affidavit said. "Willis said that later he put Julian on the floor and set up a fan because Julian was sweating. He then noticed Julian wasn't breathing so they called an ambulance and he picked Julian up and 'ran like a football player' upstairs. Willis said that Julian 'kinda hit his head' on the wall but he just kept going."

At the hospital, Caldwell "was evasive and uncooperative" with police, the affidavit said. Her father "was nearby and told her if Demetrius Willis did anything to Julian, she had better not cover up for him. Jessica remained silent."

A doctor who operated on Julian saw bruises on the boy's abdomen "that he concluded were a result of severe blunt force, possible punches or kicks," the affidavit said. He said he removed about 2 liters of blood from Julian's abdominal cavity.

Caldwell's father told police that Willis became defensive when medical staff asked him about multiple bruises on Julian. Willis would not talk to investigators, the affidavit said.

Julian died at the hospital Sept. 10, and a doctor said Julian was injured sometime in the early morning. His death was ruled a homicide due to blunt-force injuries.

A grand jury indicted Willis on Thursday. He was charged with unintentional second-degree murder while committing a first-degree assault.


He also was indicted on three other counts of second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree manslaughter and one count of second-degree manslaughter.

Willis' convictions in Minnesota include two in 2008 for violating an order for protection or no-contact order, and two in 2007 for felony domestic assault, according to court records.

Willis also was ruled delinquent as a juvenile in domestic-violence-related assaults in 2003 and 2006, a criminal complaint said.

In one 2006 case, he grabbed an 18-month-child that he had with a girlfriend and continued to hit his girlfriend's mother, a complaint said.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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