Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County man, 19, indicted in child abuse death

BROOKSVILLE — The case against David McBurnett Jr. is straightforward.

Authorities said the 19-year-old man beat his girlfriend's 1-year-old son for months, leaving him bruised, broken and nearly brain-dead.

A Hernando County grand jury didn't waste time Thursday returning an indictment against McBurnett for first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse in the death of Hunter Morris.

But Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino said Breanna Underwood — the boy's 19-year-old mother, who witnessed the abuse — will not face criminal charges.

"Just because someone sees something or does something doesn't mean it rises to the level of a criminal offense," Magrino said.

The 21-member grand jury listened to testimony and evidence against McBurnett for several hours before reaching its decision just after 2 p.m.

Investigators said he repeatedly hit the child on his hands and feet with a remote control because the boy wouldn't stop crying. He also struck Hunter with a Nike sandal and his hands, and grabbed the boy by the face and squeezed him, reports state.

Upon questioning, authorities said McBurnett admitted committing the abuse.

Underwood and McBurnett, an unemployed laborer, lived with his mother near Istachatta. The abuse began in March, when Hunter was just 6 months old, reports state. Deputies arrested McBurnett on Sept. 11 on a charge of aggravated child abuse, a week after Hunter was taken to the emergency room with internal bleeding, a fractured rib and bruises that likely left him brain-dead, reports state.

A day after the arrest, Hunter died, and deputies added a murder charge.

Magrino, the chief homicide prosecutor in Hernando County, said he could not comment further about the testimony or evidence because grand jury proceedings are secret.

It takes at least 12 grand jurors to reach an affirmative indictment, which is necessary for first-degree murder charges in Florida.

The murder charge is a capital felony. Magrino said he is still weighing whether to request the death penalty.

McBurnett's defense attorney, Ellis Faught Jr. of Brooksville, whose practice is based in Brandon, did not return messages seeking comment.

John Frank can be reached at jfrank@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6114.

Hernando County man, 19, indicted in child abuse death 10/01/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 1, 2009 7:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays morning after: Wilson Ramos showing glimpses of what's possible in 2018

    Blogs

    The real payoff for the Rays signing C Wilson Ramos last off-season will come in 2018, when he can play a full season fully recovered from right knee surgery.

    And Ramos is giving the Rays a pretty good glimpse of what that can be like.

    In Friday's 8-3 win over the Orioles, he hit a grand slam - …

  2. Buccaneers-Vikings Scouting Report: Watching Kyle Rudolph, Adam Thielen and Everson Griffen

    Bucs

    No matter how much film we study, no matter how much data we parse, we just don't know how an NFL season will unfold.

  3. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  4. Sue Carlton: Job or family when a hurricane's coming — a very Florida conundrum

    Hurricanes

    It must seem as foreign to Northerners as shoveling snow is to those of us raised in the Sunshine State: The very-Florida conundrum of having to choose between work and family — between paycheck and personal safety — when a hurricane comes.

    A hurricane helps the rest of us acknowledge the police officers, paramedics, hospital personnel, public works employees and others who stay on the job despite the storm. 
  5. After Tampa concert, Arcade Fire members party, preach politics at Crowbar

    Blogs

    After waiting more than a decade for Arcade Fire’s first appearance in Tampa, fans didn’t have to wait long for their second.

    DJ Windows 98, a.k.a. singer Win Butler of Arcade Fire, performed at a "Disco Town Hall" at Crowbar following the band's concert at the USF Sun Dome on Sept. 22, 2017.