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Tampa toddler at center of child abuse investigation dies

TAMPA — A toddler whose mother is accused of waiting hours to get help even though the boy was unconscious died Wednesday morning.

The 2-year-old, Christian Love, was pronounced dead at 11:21 a.m. at Tampa General Hospital. Family members say they will donate some of the boy's organs.

Christian had been hospitalized since Friday when, Tampa police say, his mother sought medical care for him after waiting about five hours.

On Sunday, police arrested Candace Mitchell, 24, of Tampa on an aggravated child abuse charge. She remained held in jail Wednesday on $50,000 bail.

Investigators said she told them that she had left Christian in the care of her boyfriend, who is not the boy's father. She said that the boyfriend told her that the toddler had fallen. Officers said she then delayed getting help for the boy because she feared a child abuse investigation.

Skeptical of Mitchell's version of how the toddler suffered his injuries, the hospital called authorities.

On Wednesday, Tampa police spokeswoman Janelle McGregor said the department is now investigating the case as a homicide. There were no additional charges in the case, she said, and it could be some time before the investigation concludes.

The child's father, Messiah Love, 23, is questioning what happened to his son.

"It's just a tragic thing," Love said Wednesday.

The night before, family members said that the child's condition was grim and he was 80 percent brain dead.

"Machines are helping him breathe — helping him do everything," his aunt, 26-year-old Shatirah Love-Paul, said then.

Michael Finch II can be reached at mfinch@tampabay.com or at (813)226-3401.

Tampa toddler at center of child abuse investigation dies 05/30/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 31, 2012 12:48am]

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