Jury finds man guilty of murder of 2-year-old Elkville boy

Jury finds man guilty of murder of 2-year-old Elkville boy
Michael Pulliam
Michael Pulliam

JACKSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - A jury found a man guilty on Monday of first degree murder of a two-year-old boy from Elkville, Illinois.

Jarrod Rudder, 27, formerly from Michigan, was found guilty of the murder of Michael Pulliam, according to the Jackson County courthouse.

The trial ended on June 22 after the jury deliberated for nearly two hours.

Pulliam died in April 2012 from serious injuries.

On April 20, 2012, just before midnight, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department said they received a 911 call reporting that a two year old was unresponsive.

The caller, identified as Rudder, reported that the child fell in the bathtub at the Elkville home.

An Elkville officer arrived on the scene and immediately recognized that the child's injuries were consistent with a closed-head injury. The child, Michael Pulliam, was taken to a Carbondale hospital and later air lifted to St. Louis Children's Hospital.

When Pulliam arrived at the St. Louis hospital, doctors were concerned with the number of bruises on his body. Child Abuse Pediatricians became involved with his care. They say Pulliam also had major brain swelling, and his condition was critical.

Detectives with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department began investigating. They say that Pulliam's mother, Amanda Howell, was at work in De Soto and he was left in the care of Rudder, Howell's boyfriend, at her home in Elkville.

According to detectives, Rudder gave several conflicting accounts of what had happened to Pulliam. During the investigation, however, Rudder admitted that he had grabbed Pulliam by the arm, swung him around off of a couch and the child hit a wall in the home.

Pulliam died  at the St. Louis Children's Hospital on April 22, 2012.

During an autopsy, it was discovered that Pulliam suffered a nerve injury in his brain, which is caused by extreme acceleration and deceleration forces. Pulliam also had eight lateral rib fractures and severe bleeding deep within his abdominal cavity.

The pathologist and Child Abuse pediatricians testified that Pulliam would have had immediate symptoms as a result of the injuries.

According to Jackson County State's Attorney Michael C. Carr, medical experts testified that these injuries were not the result of a fall from the bathtub or a ground-level fall. They determined that these injuries were consistent with abuse and inflicted trauma.

Carr said many witnesses testified during the trial that Pulliam was not injured before the mother left for work, stating that Pulliam was walking, talking and running without any noticeable issues.

On June 22, 2015, the jury returned a guilty verdict for first degree murder, rejecting involuntary manslaughter. Sentencing has been set for Aug. 18 at 1:30 p.m.

The investigation was conducted by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, with assistance from the St. Louis City Medical Examiner's Office, the St. Louis Children's Hospital's Child Protection Program and the Elkville Police Department. Assistant State's Attorney Casey Bloodworth was responsible for the prosecution of this case.

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