LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - As a family prepares to bury a four-year-old, the man charged with killing him faced a judge on a murder charge. This happens far too often in Kentucky. A few years ago the Commonwealth was ranked the worst state in the country for child abuse deaths and it just gets worse over the holidays. Kids are off their routines and full of energy; adults are often drinking alcohol, and there can be big financial and emotional stresses.
"Child abuse is a crime," said Therese Sirles, Director of Child Advocacy for Kosair Childrens' Hospital. "It does not have to happen."
29-year-old Johnny Juliot was arraigned and charged with killing his girlfriend's 4-year-old son, Tony Hack.
Juliot was originally charged with criminal abuse 1st after The boy went to the hospital with three skull fractures and bruises all over his body. Two days later, Hack died, and now Juliot is charged with murder.
"It is so not unusual for a mother's boyfriend to be the perpetrator of an infant," said Sirles. "Mother's have to be so careful who they leave their children with."
Sirles said Kosair has already treated 20 child abuse victims this year. Three of whom died. One died January, just after the holidays. The other two within the last three weeks.
"I think that a combination of our financial instability along with what we have in our minds as the perfect Christmas is really a horrible stressor for parents," said Sirles.
Police have not said why Juliot beat the child, nor about his financial situation, but the court did appoint him a public defender when arraigned on murder charges.
"We see cases rise during the holidays and we also see cases rise the higher the unemployment rate gets, the higher our cases of child abuse get also," said Sirles.
Sirles recommended visiting Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky one for more info on how to prevent child abuse.