West Carrollton man accused of killing girlfriend’s baby asks judge to suppress evidence

A West Carrollton man charged with killing a 6-week-old baby girl appeared in court Friday for a motion to suppress hearing.

Charles Pulley III, 18, is charged in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court with murder, felonious assault, involuntary manslaughter and child endangering. He is incarcerated at the Montgomery County Jail on $1 million bond.

The charges are connected to the Aug. 23, 2020, death of Averi Grabans at Dayton Children’s Hospital. Averi was the child of Pulley’s girlfriend, prosecutors said.

ExploreRecords: West Carrollton man was watching baby when she suffered fatal injuries

Montgomery County Coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger said the baby died of blunt force trauma to the head, and that she suffered a skull fracture, hemorrhages and contusions on her head.

The defense filed a motion in the case last month asking Judge Mary Katherine Huffman to suppress the use of statements made by Pulley and evidence collected in the case.

“In the instant case, said officers questioned the defendant concerning a homicide investigation without first providing a suitable Miranda warning,” the motion says. “Moreover, any and all statements made by the defendant following a so-called Miranda warning were involuntarily made.”

On Friday, West Carrollton Police Detective Scott Lawson answered questions from both prosecutors and defense attorneys about his investigation into the baby’s death. He testified that he spoke to the mother and grandmother of the child on Aug. 20 and determined that Pulley was responsible for caring for Averi when she was injured.

ExploreFather of West Carrollton man charged with baby’s death: ‘This is a tragic accident’

He said he, another detective and officers went to Pulley’s apartment at around 1:30 a.m. Aug. 21, and Pulley agreed to go to the West Carrollton police station to answer questions. The police detective said that he went over a pre-interview form with Pulley explaining his Miranda rights before questioning him.

Lawson said the interview took more than an hour to complete and afterward, Pulley wrote a statement and was taken back to the home to demonstrate on camera how he said the child was injured.

“He would demonstrate how he was swinging the baby around and how he hit her head on the door jamb,” Lawson said.

Pulley also sat on the couch and demonstrated on video how he dropped a phone on the child’s head as he tried to take a picture, Lawson said, and how the child allegedly slipped out of his hands and rolled down the couch and onto the floor.

Pulley wasn’t arrested that night and wasn’t booked into jail until January when he was charged in Miamisburg Municipal Court.

Defense attorney Anthony VanNoy asked Lawson whether he told Pulley that he was free to leave during the questioning and pointed out that it was the police’s idea for him to demonstrate on camera how the baby was allegedly hurt.

The attorney also asked whether Pulley was tired during his interaction with police due to the time of night police made contact with him. Lawson said Pulley answered the door quickly when they knocked, was aware of the situation before police got there and did not appear to be under any intoxicating substance.

Huffman took the matter under advisement and said a ruling would be issued at a later date. Pulley is due back in court on Sept. 1 for a final pre-trial hearing and a trial is set to begin on Sept. 13.

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