Man charged in beating death of 2-year-old
Corey Benson, once hailed in Milwaukee as an icon of triumph over poverty and adversity, was charged Thursday with the horrific beating death of a 2-year-old boy.
Benson, 26, was charged with abusing the same child in October. It was unclear Thursday what, if any, protective services were being provided to the child.
Arlene Happach, director of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, said the bureau's role in the case was being investigated.
"This child's death is a tragedy, and our deepest sympathy is with his family and others who loved him," Happach said.
In addition to facing a charge of first-degree reckless homicide, Benson also was charged Thursday with two counts of felony bail jumping - one count for violating a judge's Nov. 15 order to have to contact with the boy, Karmari Curtis, and one count for committing a crime while on bail.
If convicted of all three charges, he faces up to 72 years in prison.
According to a criminal complaint:
Police say Benson first injured Karmari on Oct. 25, 2010.
The boy remained in the intensive care unit of Children's Hospital of Wisconsin for six days as a result of his injuries.
Benson was free on $25,000 bail on April 2, the day Karmari died.
The boy's mother told police she asked Benson to baby-sit Karmari that day while she attended school.
Later that day, the complaint says, Benson walked into the lobby of Aurora Sinai Medical Center with the boy in his arms, calling out: "Somebody help me please, my son is not breathing."
Benson, according to the complaint, told a nurse that he found the boy "in the bathtub. I found him face down in the bathtub."
The boy was dry and clothed. Benson said that, rather than call 911, he dressed the child and brought him to the hospital.
As doctors examined the child, who had no pulse and was not breathing, Benson rocked back and forth with tears in his eyes, repeating to himself: "How am I going to explain this?"
An autopsy revealed the child suffered blunt force trauma to his head and neck, bruises to his head, lacerations in his mouth, blunt force trauma to the child's thorax, abdomen and pelvis, compression injuries to the boy's chest, abdomen and buttocks, compression injuries and swelling to his scrotum, and blunt force trauma to his lower extremities.
The boy's mother, Willette Famolu, told police that her son had been in contact with Benson twice after the first charge of abuse: once, about two weeks ago, when she and Karmari spent the night at Benson's house and the second time April 2, when the boy suffered his fatal injuries.
Benson drew citywide admiration eight years ago when stories appeared in the Journal Sentinel that traced his journey from an impoverished family whose father was murdered when he was 2 to become the first black male valedictorian at Washington High School.
He later graduated from Purdue University with a degree in accounting.