Danville man sentenced to 65 years in murder of 4-year-old boy in 2017

UPDATE (Oct. 7, 2019)– Michael Atkinson was sentenced to 65 years in the Indiana Department of Correction with 842 days (2.3 years) of jail credit.

Previous story:

DAVILLE, Ind. — Michael P. Atkinson has been found guilty of the 2017 murder of his girlfriend’s 4-year-old son, the Danville Police Department announced Wednesday.

Atkinson was also found guilty of aggravated battery resulting in death and neglect of a dependent resulting in death. His sentencing is scheduled for October 7.

Just before 11:00 p.m. on November 11, 2017, police and fire medics were dispatched to a home on Sherwood Dr. in Danville for an unresponsive boy.

The boy was revived with CPR, and police say his injuries were so severe that he had to be placed on a ventilator and taken to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. The boy passed away as a result of his injuries two days later.

When questioned by police, Atkinson told them he believed the boy fell in the bathtub at about 6:16 p.m. and hit the back of his head. He also told them the boy was dealing with cold symptoms throughout the week. Court records show Atkinson claimed the boy pulled his own hair or hit himself because of stress and anxiety.

At the hospital, the boy’s mother told investigators her boyfriend, Atkinson, was watching her children for the night.

Doctors told police the boy had a number of bruises on the back of his head and on his knee. The doctor also believed the boy had internal bleeding and a shattered spleen.

Court records state the doctor told police “the mother is claiming all the injuries are self-inflicted.” The doctor told police the injuries were not self-inflicted, and the boy could not have done this to himself.

When police asked for a detailed account of the night when the injuries allegedly happened, Atkinson stated the boy had an accident, and he put him in the shower to clean up. Court records state, “Atkinson claimed he went to check on the children when he heard a thud.” Records state when Atkinson went back into the bathroom, the boy was “lying on the floor of the bathtub, holding his head.” He also said there was blood.

Around 7 the same evening, Atkinson stated the boy went into the living room to watch a movie and was complaining his stomach and head hurt. Then around 10:30, court records show Atkinson said he noticed the boy’s breathing was “labored, horse, (and) gargled.” According to records, Atkinson told police he put the boy to bed around 11 p.m. and went in to check on him about 15 minutes later. That’s when the boy was discovered to be unresponsive.

The boy’s mother told police she received a text message around 10:30 p.m. stating “911- please call.” Court records show Atkinson called the boy’s mother and some friends before calling 911 for help.

When questioned by police, the boy’s mother told them, “I think he would get mad, but I don’t think he would ever hurt him.” She also told police another child in the home heard a crashing sound in the bathroom when the 4-year-old got hurt.

DCS became involved in the investigation and removed two children from the home while police investigated the 4-year-old’s severe injuries.

On January 11, 2018, a report from the medical examiner’s office was completed. It showed the boy died from multiple blunt force traumatic injuries, and the manner of death was homicide.

Police interviewed multiple family members and friends. Court records show some stated they were aware of abuse to the boy.

While reviewing evidence, including surveillance video inside the boy’s room, police noted inconsistencies in Atkinson’s timeline of the night the 4-year-old was hurt.

Police said the investigation took two months to complete because they were waiting for a complete report from the pathologist to determine the cause and manner of death.

Following a thorough investigation, Atkinson was arrested on January 16, 2018, and has been held in the Hendricks County Jail since that date.

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