Preschooler hit wall after being flung, records suggest

Preschooler hit wall after being flung, records suggest

A man facing multiple murder charges in the death of his girlfriend's preschool-aged daughter two weeks ago told a Medford police detective that he was roughhousing with the little girl when she stopped breathing and, upset by what he had done, he threw her onto a bed so hard that she "flew off and hit her head on the wall."

Now available in court records, an affidavit by Medford police Detective Katie Ivens describes how Benjamin James George, 29, lied, first to his girlfriend, Michelle Lunsford, and then to police, before admitting what had seriously injured Kacy Sue Lunsford.

Kacy died June 15, less than two weeks before her third birthday, when she was taken off life support at Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland.

While she was treated initially at Providence Medford Medical Center, doctors summoned police about 5 a.m. on June 12 to investigate the nature of her head injuries. She had subdural hematomas — bleeding on the brain that can be caused by shaking or a blow to the head — on the right side of her brain, reports say.

The little girl was whisked to Portland, and Detective Ivens was called out to learn more about what had happened, the affidavit says.

Police were told that Kacy had hit her head while at the park with George, Ivens wrote in her affidavit. Police reports released earlier indicated the injury likely happened the previous evening, on June 11.

But when Ivens took a statement from George at midmorning, after Kacy had gone into surgery at Doernbecher, she learned "he had lied about the injury," she wrote.

After being informed of his rights not to speak or to have an attorney present, "George confessed to playing too rough with the victim and that while doing a wrestling 'move' he caused the victim to stop breathing," Ivens wrote.

Upset over his actions, he threw the little girl onto a bed so hard that she flew off and smashed her head against a wall. He told the detective that Kacy then began vomiting and he called her mother "and lied about her true condition."

George was arrested on a first-degree assault charge and lodged in the Jackson County Jail that afternoon.

Kacy underwent two surgeries in Portland and remained in critical condition. On June 15, the family decided to remove life support and she died.

Ivens and Dr. Kerri Hecox, of the Children's Advocacy Center, testified before a Jackson County grand jury on June 15, before Kacy's death, and the grand jury indicted George on the first-degree assault charge.

The grand jury reconvened the next week and indicted George on charges of felony murder and murder by abuse, as well as first-degree assault. Prosecutors said the murder charges specifically related to the death of a child hadn't been used in Jackson County before.

The felony murder charge applies when a person causes a death in the course of committing another serious crime, in this case, the first-degree assault of a child younger than 14, prosecutors said.

A murder by abuse charge applies when a person, recklessly or "under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life," causes the death of a child younger than 14 in a pattern of abuse or infliction of pain. Only one other incident of harm is required for the law to apply and prosecutors don't have to list the specific instances.

George was set to be arraigned June 23, but the arraignment was continued until July 14 because a public defender wasn't available. A high number of murder and similarly serious cases has taxed Southern Oregon Public Defenders, so a second group that handles public defense will take on the case, officials said.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 541-776-4485, or e-mail

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