DETROIT (WWJ) – A two-year-old Macomb County boy who was allegedly beaten by his mother’s boyfriend has died after being on life support for several days.
Damian Sutton died around 7:40 a.m. Tuesday at Detroit’s Children’s Hospital, according to his great-aunt Cora Leibowitz.
Damian’s grandfather Steven Higdon was in the room as the boy’s mother and father said their final goodbyes.
“At five-something this morning, they took the oxygen off of him and they told my son and Nikki to come upstairs because it wasn’t good,” he said. “They got to hold him and love on him, you know. Nikki held him as Tim rubbed his arms and reassured him that everything was just fine. Then at about 7:41 this morning, the nurse checked him and he passed at that time.”
Sutton had been hospitalized in critical condition after police say he suffered terrible abuse at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend, 26-year-old Ronald Dimambro, who was babysitting him at the time.
Doctors on Monday began assessing how much brain function Damian had left, which was rumored at a bleak 20 percent.
“Damian had a very stressful night as the doctors weaned him off the medications that were no longer working to control his blood pressure and brain pressure,” Leibowitz said in a statement. “Additionally the doctors took him off the sedation medication Monday afternoon that kept him in the medically induced coma to see exactly what his body was capable of doing on his own.”
Doctors said Damian’s death is one of the most severe cases of shaken baby syndrome they’ve ever seen.
Family members said at first, they thought the toddler had fallen out of a playpen at his Washington Township home last Tuesday — but they quickly became suspicious. Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said Dimambro, who eventually turned himself in, admitted that he shook the boy roughly and then threw him.
Damian’s mother, Nikki Sutton, believes Dimambro deliberately injured the boy over jealously. Dimambro, who is charged with first degree child abuse, is being held on a $500,000 cash/surety bond and is due back in court for a preliminary examination on Tuesday.
Since Damian died, Wickersham said prosecutors might bring additional charges against Dimambro.
In the meantime, the family is thanking the public for all the support they’ve received.
“I truly believe that Damian received the best possible treatment for his injuries and the staff did everything they could for this beautiful soul,” Leibowitz said in a statement. “The family would like to thank the community for all the support and love that we have received over the last week. We ask that you continue to pray for our family as we continue this horrible and difficult journey.”
Leibowitz said anyone who would like to contribute donations toward Damian’s medical and funeral expenses can do so online at gofundme.org/prayersfordamian. Donations are also being accepted at any Fifth Third Bank location, nationwide.
Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBSDetroit.com for the latest.