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RACINE — A Racine teen has been charged with homicide following the death of his 39-day-old child on Valentine’s Day, authorities said.

Shavale Powell, 17, faces charges of first-degree reckless homicide as a party to a crime, and two counts of physical abuse of a child intentionally causing bodily harm, according to a complaint filed Monday in Racine County Circuit Court.

Racine Police and emergency medical personnel responded to a home in the 1800 block of LaSalle Street on Feb. 14 after a caller to 911 reported a pulseless child who was not breathing. Responders found the child, identified as TJP in court documents, dead, according to the complaint.

Both Powell, the child’s father, and Javian Clark, the child’s mother, were present and told police they had been caring for the child for about eight days.

Clark has not yet been formally charged but was identified Monday in court as a co-defendant in Powell’s case by Assistant District Attorney Christopher Steenrod.

Police rule infant’s death a homicide

Investigators took the child to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office, where it was ruled a homicide, according to the complaint. 

The medical examiner found:

  • Blunt force injuries to the infant’s head, including bruises on the face, a fractured skull, bleeding brain, and optic nerve ruptures.
  • Bruises on the child’s chest and back and multiple rib fractures.
  • Abrasions to the infant’s right hand and bruises on the child’s left leg

Police discovered the one-year-old child in the home. They noted that the baby had a bruised and injured left eye. Powell and Clark told police the child had fallen in the shower while Powell was home watching the child. However, police looked at photos on the phone and discovered a photo taken at 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 13, which shows the child uninjured.

The one-year-old was examined at the Racine County Children’s Advocacy Center, which ruled the injury concerning for abuse, police said.

Teen charged in adult court

Judicial Court Commissioner Alice Rudebusch ordered Powell held on a $50,000 cash bond.

“These are tragic circumstances and he is just a teenager,” she said. “However, there is a baby who’s died.”

The amount matches the amount sought by Steenrod.

“I understand Mr. Powell’s law enforcement contacts are minor; however, the charges are extremely serious,” he said. “He does have what I see as one pending case involving the co-defendant of this matter.”

State Public Defender Ashley Castro pushed for a $20,000 bond, citing Powell’s age.

“Mr. Powell is only about 17 or 18 years old,” she said. “I don’t think he can come up with that kind of money.”

Powell faces 60 years in prison if convicted on the homicide count, and up to six years for each of the child abuse counts, as well as fines of up to $10,000. 

Powell was in police custody Monday afternoon but did not yet appear in the Racine County Jail’s inmate roster.

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