Chesterton Tribune

Liberty man charged in infant death makes bail

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A Liberty Township man charged in connection with the death earlier this year of his girlfriend’s infant son has bonded out of the Porter County Jail. Benjamin M. Willis II, 23, with a listed address of 1811 Vail Drive, posted a $50,000 surety bond on June 14, his attorney, Peter Boyle, told the Chesterton Tribune on Thursday.

Porter Superior Court Roger Bradford had previously lowered the bond, originally set at $50,000 surety and $5,000 cash, Boyle said.

A $50,000 surety bond means that Willis gave a bondsman 10 percent of that amount—$5,000—to secure his release pending trial.

Willis “can now resume his employment, hopefully, and better assist in preparing a defense in this case,” Boyle said, then added that the case against his client is a “questionable” one.

Willis “absolutely denies harming the child in any way,” Boyle added.

On March 16, Willis was charged with neglect of a dependent and battery, both Class A felonies punishable by a term of 20 to 50 years, eight days after Porter County Sheriff’s Police officers were dispatched to Willis’ home in response to a 911 call about a baby “gasping for breath.”

On March 10, Keagan Fishel, 7 months, died at an Indianapolis children’s hospital.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed by Det. Eric Jones of the Porter County Sheriff’s Police, the autopsy conducted on Keagan revealed “severe” skull injuries, with “multiple fractures and hemorrhages within and outside the skull.”

The forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy, Jones stated in his affidavit, indicated that “this type of injury does not occur by a slip, a fall, or even if a child were accidently dropped during a bath.”

Keagan’s mother, and Willis’ girlfriend, Sasha Sabates, found her infant son “vomiting” sometime after she had put him down for a nap and then taken a shower, while leaving Keagen, at least for part of the time, with Willis, Jones stated.

Sabates later told investigators that Willis hesitated when she told him to call 911, that she suspects him of hurting Keagan once before when she left her son in the car with Willis while she went into a convenience store, and that she has seen Willis abuse his two pitbull dogs.

In connection with the latter allegation, Willis has been charged with torturing a vertebrate animal and with animal cruelty.



Posted 6/29/2012