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Man Accused Of Smothering 20-Month-Old Stepson Appears In Court

CLYMER (KDKA) -- An Indiana County man accused of smothering his 20-month-old stepson appeared in court Tuesday.

The mother of the boy who died sobbed in court while hearing testimony about how the boy's stepfather - in trying to quiet the child - allegedly ended up taking his life.

During testimony, it was revealed Juan Campbell told police he has used heroin and has been to a methadone treatment center.

He's accused of covering the mouth of 20-month-old Malachi Patterson while the child was whimpering and whining. It all happened at an apartment in Burrell Township last May.

According to the testimony of a forensic pathologist, covering the boy's mouth ended up smothering him, denying him vital oxygen to the brain. All this while the boy's mother was giving birth to another child.

Investigators had suspicions about other possible abuse when the child was first taken to the hospital.

The boy's great uncle spoke for the family after the hearing.

"There's not a day that I wake up that I don't think about Malachi, and how terrible that man could be to a baby that could not defend himself," said Merle Patterson, the baby's great uncle. "This is not the first accident and Juan needs to be punished."

"Even walk away and let the child cry," added Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty. "That's the message, and we have to be cognizant. We have to be realistic in what we expect from our children. They are children. Children cry."

The defense argued Campbell never intended to kill the child.

But the judge ruled there was enough evidence to hold him for trial on criminal homicide charges.

Mother's Husband Charged In Suspected Abuse Case (5/18/13)
Boy Dies In Hospital After Suspected Abuse (5/19/13)
Man Charged With Homicide In Indiana Co. Child's Death (5/20/13)
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