Man Held Without Bail:Charged in Toddler's Death

By Kristen Tripodi

Published 08/28 2014 07:15PM

Updated 08/28 2014 07:40PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. - A Hartford Vermont man pled not guilty to second degree murder in the death of a toddler. Police say after a yearlong investigation they believe Luke Theriault, 31 killed his girlfriend’s son, Jamaal Turkvan, 2, last summer.

It was an unusually long arraignment Wednesday where the big debate centered on whether or not Theriault would be granted bail. The judge ultimately denied that request, but during that hearing we learned more about the lengthy investigation into the two-year-old's death.

Theriault said nothing during the hearing as his lawyer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. The charge against him was downgraded to second-degree murder for the death of Turkvan.

Court documents reveal that in July of last year emergency services responded to a 911 call for an un-responsive toddler. When police arrived Turkvan was pronounced dead at the scene.

Kayleigh Munyon, Turkvan's mom, told police her son was complaining of head pain during the last week of his life. But the coroner says the little boy's cause of death was due to internal injuries to his abdomen.

“That was likely attributed to multiple blows with a fist, or with the points of fingers, either knuckles or finger points,” said David Cahill, the Windsor County Chief Deputy State’s Attorney.

Cahill implied Theriault may have used brass knuckles to beat Turkvan.

The state says Theriault was on probation for reckless endangerment at the time of his arrest and is a flight risk.

“He failed to appear in court on much less serious charges so the inference of risk of flight presumably would be greater when he's facing a more serious charge,” said Cahill.

The judge says Theriault has a criminal record in both Vermont and New Hampshire. In the state of New Hampshire he was convicted of criminal trespass. In the state of Vermont he has violated probation and has been convicted of resisting arrest.

We spoke with one of Theriault former girlfriends and the mother of one of his children she says she's surprised by the arrest and she never felt her daughter was in any danger; but says Theriault has quite a temper.

For now the 31 year old will be held without bail.

If Theriault is convicted of second degree murder he could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The Commissioner of DCF Dave Yacovone confirms the department had no prior contact with Turkvan before his death.

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