Prosecutor says it was all a clerical error in child abuse case
ELKHART, Ind. -- A man accused of beating a three-year-old child nearly faced a misdemeanor instead of a felony all because of a simple mistake.
Thankfully, that error has now been fixed.
It was just two days ago when we told you the story of three-year-old Aleah.
Police say she was beaten by 20-year-old Tyler Beathea.
Her mother and grandmother thought justice was being served when Beathea was arrested and booked on 2 class D felonies, but they were shocked when they went online to the Elkhart County Sheriff's website and saw one of the charges was reduced to a misdemeanor.
Prosecutor Curtis Hill Jr. told me those charges should never have been reduced. It was actually just a clerical error made within the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department.
That mistake was welcome news for the three-year-old's family who wants justice to be served.
"The original charges were battery of a minor with serious bodily injury, which we were told was a class B felony by the detective," said Aleah's grandmother Selina Gilbert.
Selina Gilbert and her daughter Brooke Jackson were horrified when they looked online at the Elkhart Sheriff's Department website and saw that charges against Jackson's former boyfriend Tyler Beathea for allegedly beating Aleah had been reduced from a class D felony to a class B misdemeanor.
"You can imagine our surprise when we thought that this was dropped to a misdemeanor. We thought this was more punishable than that," said Gilbert.
Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis T. Hill Jr said the charge issue was just an error.
"It was a mistake at entry at some point," said Prosecutor Curtis T. Hill Jr.
Hill says the mistake happened when the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department made a clerical error, but the class D felony was never officially dropped to a misdemeanor.
In fact, it has since been elevated to a class B felony which could mean twenty years behind bars.
"We reviewed the information regarding the case and determined it would be a class B felony based on the allegation of the serious bodily injuries to a child," said Prosecutor Hill.
Hill says everyone is human and minor mistakes like these happen, but the jail website is not the final say. The court documents are.
For Gilbert, those documents bring some relief. They hope Beathea will face the maximum penalty for felony charges if he is found guilty.
"We were really relieved when we heard that it was a clerical error. We were jumping for joy for justice for Aleah," said Gilbert.