Trial in death of 7-year-old Terre Haute boy begins

·2 min read

Jul. 12—The trial of Brandon Pritcher on murder and other charges began Monday afternoon at the Vigo County Courthouse, as prosecuting and defense attorneys gave their opening statements.

Pritcher is accused of beating his 7-year-old son, Leeam, to death in September of 2020 at their Terre Haute home.

Prosecutor Dan McGlone explained to the jury what the witnesses would be telling them in the coming days. Pritcher's ex-wife would say that in the days leading up to the homicide, she was denied visitation with Leeam because Pritcher said their son was being punished for stealing, McGlone said.

Pritcher's girlfriend at the time is expected to testify that she received two texts at 4:54 a.m. on Sept. 19 saying "No kidding I accidentally killed Leeam" (although his phone's auto-correct misspelled Leeam) and "I'm going to jail."

Pritcher deleted those texts from his phone, and it wasn't until 5:03 a.m. that Pritcher contacted 911, the prosecution says.

Pritcher told authorities Leeam had hit his head repeatedly on a bedroom wall and bedpost, but McGlone said that photos would show that not just Leamm's head was bruised, and testimony from the person who conducted the victim's autopsy would refute Pritcher's claim.

Leeam was pronounced brain-dead at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis and subsequently died on Sept. 20, 2020, which is where the autopsy was conducted. McGlone is prosecuting the case with Kevin O'Reilly.

Defense attorney Matthew Daley characterized Pritcher as gravely concerned over his son's behavior when money and a gun went missing in his home, and upset that Leeam had lied about doing his homework.

Daley told jurors they would hear Pritcher's desperation in his 911 call to rescue his son.

Daley conceded that Pritcher "spanked" Leeam multiple times and "smacked him on the back of the head one or two times," but insisted, "my client did not knowingly, intentionally" kill his son.

Pritcher also faces charges of neglect of a dependent resulting in death, aggravated battery, domestic battery resulting in death of a person under 14, domestic battery with serious bodily injury to a person under 14, and neglect of a dependent resulting in serious injury. All are felonies.

David Kronke can be reached at 812-231-4232 or at david.kronke@tribstar.com.