Crime

Crabtree case sent to grand jury; police sergeant quotes girl's brother, 3, at hearing

When asked what happened to his sister, a 3-year-old boy told investigators he saw Brian Crabtree assault her.

The boy said, "'Brian hit sissy. Brian hit sissy,'" Lexington police Sgt. Jesse Harris testified Friday during a preliminary hearing for Brian Crabtree.

Crabtree allegedly did more than hit 2-year-old Katelynn Stinnett. The 18-year-old is accused of rape, sexual abuse and murder. He has pleaded not guilty.

Harris, an investigator in Lexington police's Crimes Against Children unit, testified that Crabtree admitted to the crimes during a taped interview in the early-morning hours of Nov. 26.   The day before, Crabtree was caring for Katelynn and her brother at the Bradford Apartments off Versailles Road.

Their father, Daniel Stinnett, and their mother, Angela Johns, recently divorced. For the past several months, Crabtree was Stinnett's roommate, and he often watched the children while Stinnett worked.

Johns said in an interview last week that she helped clean up the trailer at the mobile home park in southern Bourbon County, where Stinnett, Crabtree and the two kids lived after social workers visited. The trailer was pretty dirty, she recalled. But she said she thought the two men were trying their best.

The four moved to Lexington days before Katelynn was injured, according to family.

On Nov. 25, Crabtree gave Katelynn a bath and then dropped her from a height about level with his shoulders and she struck her head on the floor, Harris testified Friday.Then Crabtree raped her, Harris said, provoking gasps from the court gallery. Katelynn's mother sobbed softly. Her aunt exclaimed, "Oh my God!"

Katelynn died of her injuries Dec. 3.  

Crabtree's public defender, Sam Cox, asked Harris if he knew that Crabtree has an IQ of just 68 or that Crabtree couldn't read or write. He also said that his client didn't understand the charges he faces.

Harris said Crabtree told him during his interview that he was a high school graduate and he didn't question him further about his education. Bourbon County Schools confirmed that Crabtree graduated in May.

Fayette District Judge Julie Muth Goodman found enough evidence to send the case to a grand jury to decide whether to indict Crabtree. An indictment does not indicate guilt; rather the person is accused of committing a crime.

Johns and others who knew Katelynn have confirmed that state social workers were involved with the children before Katelynn's death.Also, a certified day care owner who briefly cared for the children in September said she reported neglect of the children to state officials.

For about three weeks, the boy and girl came to her Lexington home day care filthy and their teeth were rotting, said Marie Phillips. They also ate as if they were hungry all the time, she said.

Their father told her that he did not know where their mother was, Phillips recalled. She called a social services abuse hotline and relayed her concerns.

She later told a child care assistance staffer at child protective services in Paris that the children were neglected - and said it was possible more than neglect was going on, but she didn't know for sure.

Phillips said she was told she shouldn't judge the parents and should show some compassion for a struggling, single father.

A spokeswoman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services said they could not confirm or deny any child protective services investigations.

Herald-Leader staff writer Valarie Honeycutt-Spears contributed to this story.

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