Boy, 1, was in a stroller, covered with a blanket and placed near a space heater.
DETROIT — A father said he believes an accident led to the death of his 1-year-old son that left the man's younger brother in jail facing charges in the boy's death.
Police said Tyrease Anthony Burton, died Thursday from burns he probably received from a space heater. Sandford McQueen, 22, and Karen Marie Geletzke, 23, both of Detroit, have been charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and second-degree child abuse. Geletzke is McQueen's girlfriend.
"This has destroyed me," Eugene Robinson, 24, told the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday. "My brother wouldn't hurt a kid."
Police said they received a call about an unresponsive child at a home Thursday afternoon. The child was later pronounced dead at an area hospital. An autopsy revealed the boy died after overheating, and had burn marks on his legs and torso.
Robinson said Tyrease was being watched by McQueen and Geletzke while the child's mother was at work. Robinson said he was told by his brother that he put Tyrease in a stroller, covered him with a blanket and rolled him near a space heater. The home where the boy lived with his mother had problems with its running water, electricity and heat, Robinson said. Space heaters were in several rooms to help keep the place warm since the Detroit area has battled temperatures below freezing for much of the month.
"Everybody said the place wasn't safe, and told (the child's mother) to move out," Robinson said.
He said he received a call that afternoon that the baby had been taken to the hospital. Ten minutes later, he received another call that the boy was dead.
Tyrease has a history of seizures and other health issues since he was born, his father said. Still, Robinson said, the boy was very happy and playful.
He said McQueen told him the baby was placed near the space heater for less than 30 minutes. Robinson said a doctor told him that the boy's temperature was about 150 degrees when he was admitted to the hospital.
Robinson said he and the child's mother are struggling to put together funds to bury their child. Funeral arrangements are not yet complete.
He's turned his attention to his three surviving children, whom he's yet to tell the news.
"My oldest is going to be asking me: 'Where's Tyrease?'," Robinson said.
And, he said, he finds himself struggling with the fact that his brother could go to jail for what he calls a mistake.
"There's got to be more to the story," Robinson said. "I'm not upset with him because of this situation. I want him out of this. From what he told me, this was a mistake.
"And there were two other people (in that home) who could have corrected the mistake."
Space heater safety tips
• Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep. Never place a space heater close to any sleeping person.
• Never operate a heater you suspect is damaged. Before use, inspect the heater, cord and plug for damage.
• Turn the space heater off if you leave the area. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
• Never run the heater's cord under rugs or carpeting. This can damage the cord.
• Keep combustible material such as beds, sofas, curtains, papers, and clothes at least 3 feet (0.9 m) from the front, sides and rear of the heater.
Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission