MUNCIE, Ind. — Wrestling with a 5-year-old. Internal bleeding. Felony charges.
Court documents are providing insight into why a Delaware County jury convicted a Muncie man of battery and strangulation of a child.
Dana L. Love, 58, of Muncie faces up to eight and a half years in prison after a jury convicted him on Tuesday of two felony charges:
- Count 1: Battery Resulting in Bodily Injury on a Child Less than 14 years of age
- Level 5 Felony
- Count 2: Strangulation
- Level 6 Felony
The charges stem from an incident on Oct. 15, 2017, when a 5-year-old boy was taken to IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital’s emergency room after being strangled.
The boy, court docs show, had internal bleeding in his eyes, around his eye sockets and on his neck. He also had burst capillaries from his eyes to the back of his ears, police said.
Muncie police went to the hospital and learned that the boy had been “wrestling around” at his grandma’s house on S. Meeker Avenue. Police said he had been wrestling with a neighbor, later identified as Love.
The 5-year-old told his mother that he had hit Love in the stomach, angering the man. He said Love then grabbed him by the neck, stopping him from breathing and forcing him to speak in only a “tiny voice”.
The boy said after being strangled, he ran out of the room to get away from Love. He was later taken to Riley Children’s Hospital for treatment.
Muncie officers went to interview the boy’s grandma, who said her neighbor, Love, had come over and was playing with the child. She said the boy had hit Love in the stomach a few times when Love picked him up, wrapped his arms around him and began to squeeze.
The grandma told police she thought the two were just wrestling, which was common. She estimated that Love had the boy wrapped in his arms for around 45 seconds, court docs show.
In a police interview, the grandma told officers she wasn’t paying much attention to Love and the boy, so she didn’t see exactly how the child had been grabbed. She also said the boy was “upset” after the altercation and could not talk as he left the room.
Love then allegedly told the grandma to not “baby” the boy or go after him. Love also asked the boy if he had “taught him a lesson” but the grandma said she did not know if Love was mad the boy had hit him in the stomach.
After a few minutes, the grandma went to check on the boy and saw darkness around his eyes. She told Love that the boy had been crying and that she saw internal bleeding around his face.
The grandma then called the boy’s parents, who came to the house, picked him up and took him to the emergency room.
Once contacted about the boy’s injuries, Muncie police talked with Love at his house and asked if he would make a statement. Police said Love said it must have been about “me squeezing that boy”.
Love then later declined to make a statement when taken to City Hall, saying he knew he was going to be arrested anyways.
Following Tuesday’s conviction, Love faces up to eight and a half years in prison and $20,000 in fines for his two felony charges. Post-verdict, a Delaware County judge revoked Love’s bond.
A sentencing hearing for Love has been set for Dec. 15, 2022. He is currently being held in Delaware County Jail.
County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Hoffman released a statement Tuesday following the verdict:
“I am proud of Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Ramirez, Prosecutor’s Office Investigator LeAnna Smith, and the Muncie Police Department for their hard work and dedication in this case,” Hoffman said.