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Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013 03:52 pm

Guilty plea due in 2008 death

Case forced coroner out

Anakin Credit, died in 2008
PHOTO COURTESY MICHELE CREDIT

 

A man accused of killing toddler Anakin Credit, whose death helped force the ouster of former coroner Susan Boone, has agreed to plead guilty more than two years after being charged with first-degree murder and aggravated death of a child.

The exact charge to which Mason Weems will plead isn’t clear, but Michele Credit, the grandmother of Anakin Credit, said that prosecutors have told her that Weems will get a 20-year sentence.

Weems, the boyfriend of Anakin’s mother, was alone with the 2-year-old boy in the spring of 2008 when the child became unresponsive and died shortly after arrival at St. John’s Hospital. Police were suspicious from the start but closed their investigation after Boone’s office, based on an autopsy by Dr. Jessica Bowman, determined that Anakin had died from cancer.

The inspector general for the state Department of Children and Family Services reopened the investigation the following year, however, and two pathologists concluded that Boone and Bowman had been wrong. Anakin had a laceration on his liver, 400 milliliters of blood in his abdomen and bruises on his forehead, neck and stomach.

It was, the doctors who reviewed the case agreed, a violent death. Dr. Mary Case of St. Louis concluded that a blow to the abdomen would have been fatal, but the boy had been strangled. Dr. J. Scott Denton of Bloomington said that a blow to the belly killed the boy.

“The evidence isn’t clear because of the old coroner messing everything up from the beginning,” Michele Credit said. “We didn’t get enough evidence from the police department, because it was all kind of dropped. None of these doctors can agree on how he died.

“I don’t think there’ll ever be justice. A small child never had a chance in life.”

The case was handled by the Illinois State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor’s Office. Ed Parkinson, the lead prosecutor, confirmed earlier this week that plea negotiations were underway, but he did not provide details.

Boone stuck by Bowman’s conclusions even after the state reopened the investigation into Anakin’s death. Ultimately, top county officials threatened to abolish the coroner’s office if Boone, who refused calls to use a different pathologist, didn’t resign.

Cinda Edwards, the current coroner, was appointed after promising to use a pathologist who was board-certified in forensic pathology as opposed to certified in anatomic pathology.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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