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Homicide charges follow Wis. child's death (07/31/2013)
By Chris Rogers
A Trempealeau County woman has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of a 22-month-old child. The Trempealeau County Attorney's Office has accused her of recklessly causing the death of the child "under circumstances that show utter disregard for human life." According to the complaint, multiple witnesses stated that the child's siblings told them that Amanda M. Butts, 22, of Osseo, Wis., gave pills to her boyfriend's child, Alexis K. Behlke, and threw the child down before her death on June 22 at 2:30 a.m.

Butts was reportedly watching Behlke at the time of the child's death. Two of Behlke's older siblings were with Butts at the time. Behlke's father was at work.

According to police officials, Butts' mother called from an Osseo residence and reported that Belhke was unresponsive. The child was taken to Mayo Health Systems in Osseo, where she was pronounced dead. According to reports, Behlke had cuts and bruises on her face when she arrive at the hospital.

A coroner's examination noted that Behlke had bruises, hemorrhaging, and other trauma on her head, torso, and limbs, but she died from poisoning, caused by a combination of the prescription opiate oxycodone, diphenhydramine (Benadryl), and the depression medication amitriptyline.

In a police interview, Butts reportedly admitted to administering oxycodone to Behlke, and acknowledged that doing so was wrong, reckless, and could have caused Behlke to die. Butts denied giving Behlke diphenhydramine or amitriptyline, and causing any of Behlke's injuries other than the bruising of Behlke's cheeks, police said. According to the complaint, at one point Butts told police that the facial bruising was caused when she tried to remove a piece of food from Behlke's mouth and, at another point, that it happened during CPR attempts.

In the days following Behlke's death, the two siblings told witnesses they knew why Behlke died. One sibling told a witness that he saw Behlke throw up a pill and Butts forced the pill back down Behlke's throat, according to the complaint. The sibling reportedly told the same witness that Butts grabbed Behlke by the hand, swung her, and threw her. Another sibling told a witness that he saw Butts throw Behlke to the ground and saw Behlke throw up two pills, according to the complaint.

Two other witnesses reported that at Behlke's funeral, the siblings said they knew who killed Behlke: Butts, according to the complaint.

Butts reportedly made several calls to Behlke's father the evening before Behlke died. She said that Behlke was sick, pale, and had started choking on a sandwich. Later she called the father and said that Behlke was not breathing and that she would be blamed for the child's death, according to the complaint.

"It's extremely sad," Osseo Police Chief Tim Wilson said of the death. 

 

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