Cops: DeKalb man charged in 19-month-old’s death said boy fell off bed

Kentavious Hardnett's charges were upgraded to murder.

Credit: DeKalb County Sheriff's Office

Credit: DeKalb County Sheriff's Office

Kentavious Hardnett's charges were upgraded to murder.

A DeKalb County man charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend’s 19-month-old son was arrested twice, once after the baby was hospitalized and again when the child was taken off life support, authorities said.

Kentavious Hardnett, 23, was taken into custody in Stone Mountain on Wednesday, four days after the child died at a hospital, police said.

According to an incident report obtained Thursday, DeKalb police responded to Emory Decatur Hospital about 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 21 after receiving a call about a suspected case of child abuse. Hospital security told officers that the baby was unconscious and not breathing when Hardnett brought him in.

Authorities have not released the child’s name.

In an interview with police, Hardnett reportedly said he was watching the baby at his Scottdale apartment while his girlfriend worked. He told investigators he was playing video games when he heard the child fall off the bed, according to the report.

He said he picked up the boy and noticed him leaning to one side with his eyes slightly closed “and initially assumed that he was sleeping until he noticed that he was not breathing,” an officer wrote.

Police said Hardnett carried the child across the hall to get help from a neighbor, handing the boy to the woman because he “did not know what to do,” according to the DeKalb police report. The neighbor called 911, but ultimately decided to drive Hardnett and the boy to the hospital herself.

Nurses and doctors performed CPR on the boy and eventually got him stable enough to be transferred to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. A nurse there told investigators the boy had multiple bruises, abrasions and markings around his neck and chest, as well as contusions that were not consistent with the child’s treatment at either hospital. Further evaluation determined the baby suffered a skull fracture as well as a possible spinal injury, according to the incident report.

DeKalb police spokeswoman Michaela Vincent said preliminary findings were inconsistent with Hardnett’s story that the child fell off his bed, and that the DeKalb Medical Examiner’s Officer ruled the death a homicide.

According to police, the child’s mother told investigators she and Hardnett had been in an “on-and-off” relationship since late 2019, but got back together in December. She told police she dropped her son off with her boyfriend before going to work and that she spoke to them twice over FaceTime before beginning her shift.

Hardnett was arrested on a child cruelty charge Friday but bonded out Sunday, the day the child was taken off life support, jail records show. He was arrested again Wednesday after his charges were upgraded to murder, Vincent said.

Hardnett remains held at the DeKalb County Jail without bond.

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