Anderson man found guilty in murder, abuse of girlfriend’s child, boy’s father calls for change

UPDATE (July 9, 2019) -- Dylan Tate was sentenced to life without parole plus 50 years for child molestation and 2.5 years for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

ANDERSON, Ind. - A Madison County jury found Dylan Tate, 28, guilty on all counts including murder, neglect of a dependent resulting in death, molestation, operating a vehicle with a BAC greater than .15 with a passenger and operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Phase 2 of the trial is moving forward because life without parole is being considered.

"There's this sense to try to feel good about what happened today," Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said. "But there really isn’t anything good about that. This poor child went through hell and died. [Dylan Tate]’s going to pay a price but that child’s never coming back."

Jackie Haines, Harlan's father, said this is only the beginning of his quest to get justice for his son.

"I’m happy with the jury’s decision but Harlan’s fight’s not over," Haines said. "He doesn’t have a voice and I have to be that now."

Jennifer Harris, Harlan's mother, faces charges in this case. She will have a trial at a later date.

"Clearly the mother whose primary responsibility was to protect that child, she didn’t," Cummings said. "Her testimony at trial was that she was covering up for Tate after she learned her baby was dead."

Cummings is hopeful Tate will spend the rest of his days reflecting on what happened. CBS4 previously reported the toddler died back in February 2018 after Tate reportedly crashed his car with Haines inside on the way to the hospital. They eventually made it to Community Hospital.

According to medical professionals at the hospital, Harlan was in respiratory arrest, his pupils were dilated, he had extensive bruising on his body, and went into cardiac arrest. A partial napkin or paper towel was found in his airway. Doctors told police the injuries weren’t consistent with a motor vehicle accident.

There, staff discovered the following injuries: pulmonary contusions, extensive bruising along entire body, anoxic brain injury, intracranial hemorrhaging, multiple soft tissue injuries to head and face, subgleal hematoma, possible bite marks on left arm and left leg, rectal bleeding with a possible tear, bruising on scrotum and genitals, bruising on both feet, abdominal bruising, punctate lesions on torso, upper abdomen and mid upper back, and bruising around his mouth and ears.

"What happened to that child is horrific, and unimaginable," Cummings said. "It’s chilling to think what that poor child went through."

In 2017, CBS4 learned Haines was on the radar of child welfare workers since December 2017.

Photos released by the Indiana Department of Child Services and the Madison County courts this week show the injuries Haines had during a hospital visit that month. The little boy’s eyes were both bruised. There was also bruising along his ear and he had a fractured leg.

Harris told doctors a Christmas tree fell on Haines. Due to concerns from hospital staff about the validity of the mother’s story, a DCS investigation was launched. But, the case was closed a few weeks later and Harlan remained in his mother’s care. DCS does not comment on DCS involvement with any family.

"DCS administrators are trying to make a change, I’m hopeful that it will," Cummings said. "I’m concerned that in communities like ours that have a tough edge to it in some places, that children just aren’t being protected like they should and those that have that assignment need to keep their eyes open."

This case impacted the community of Anderson. Many neighbors are charging people to keep an eye and ear out for children who are being abused.

"You just have to watch who you’re trusting with your children, who you’re dating, it’s just people need to be more vigilant, pay more attention, especially when it comes to their children," Tailer Roberts said.

Roberts has worked to spread awareness throughout the community about this case. Jennifer Brown also connected people on social media to create awareness about Harlan's cause.

"We’re not going to tolerate the abuse," Brown said. "People have to step up, speak up, report it."

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