Leamon Wesner's head dropped Wednesday as prosecutors and a judge told him his first-degree assault charge had been upgraded to first-degree murder after the death of a 2-year-old girl.
Wesner, charged with killing his girlfriend's daughter, Jessica Nolan, pleaded not guilty in Fayette District Court by video arraignment. District Judge Julie Goodman increased Wesner's bond from $7,500 to $250,000.
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Nolan died Tuesday night at University of Kentucky Medical Center, according to the Fayette County Coroner's Office. She had received a severe head injury when police arrived at 515 Michigan Ave. about 10:45 a.m. Tuesday after a report of an unresponsive child.
Lexington police Lt. John Gensheimer said Wesner was the only person home with the child Tuesday, the same day the child was injured. He said he believes the child's mother returned home after the incident, but Gensheimer said he couldn't say who called police.
Police have not released any more details about how Nolan was injured. The cause of death was "multiple blunt force trauma," according to the coroner's office, which sent the body to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Frankfort for autopsy Wednesday.
Mary Stamp of Lexington said she's been friends with Wesner for about five years. She watched Wesner, 30, on the television screen in the courtroom during the arraignment.
"He looked like he was scared, and he was really upset," Stamp said.
She said Wesner called her Tuesday night, and he told her the girl's injury was an accident.
Wesner, who is being held at the Fayette County jail, declined a request for an interview.
Stamp said she doesn't believe Wesner, whom she trusted with her own young children, would intentionally hurt any child.
She said Wesner had just asked her for old clothes and shoes for Nolan about three weeks ago because she didn't have proper attire for winter.
"He's not that kind of person," Stamp said. "He would never, ever, ever hurt a kid."
Wesner is scheduled to appear in court at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 2 for a preliminary hearing.