The Frederick County Grand Jury on Friday handed down indictments to a Thurmont husband and wife in connection with the death of a boy in their care. Raymond Matthew Brittle, 39, is charged with 2nd-degree murder, and numerous child abuse offenses, including child abuse resulting in death. His wife, Melissa Dawn Brittle, 36, is charged with child abuse resulting in death, conspiracy to commit child abuse, and other offenses.
"His indictment is for the actual acts. Her indictment is for failing to protect Robert from those acts that were occurring, having a responsibility to do so," says State's Attorney Charlie Smith.
"Robert" is Robert Watkins, the two-year-old victim in this case.
According to police, the Brittles were taking care of Robert for five months. Investigators believe the abuse of the two-year-old boy was occurring for a period of time leading up to September 5th, which is when Robert was taken to Frederick Memorial Hospital.
Authorities say when Robert was brought into FMH, personnel were told that he fell down the stairs. But the medical professionals there determined the injuries were not consistent with that type of fall, and suspected child abuse. "We're talking about multiple bruises, pretty severe skull fracture. So severe that the young boy had to be transferred via helicopter to Children's Hospital for treatment," Smith says. Robert Watkins died on Sunday, September 8th.
He says the Medical Examiner determined that Robert's injuries were consistent with child abuse.
An indictment sends the case against the Brittles to the Circuit Court, where a trial date will be set. "We have to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt, and we intend to do so," Smith says.