Joplin toddler in critical condition from suspected child abuse

Brian O'Grodnick

The Jasper County prosecutor filed more counts Monday in the June 2 death of 2-year-old Jameson Long, adding first-degree murder and two more counts of child abuse to the list of charges that the boyfriend of the child's mother is facing.

Brian M. O'Grodnick, 22, has been held without bond on four counts of child abuse since his arrest June 1, one day before the boy died at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

Murder charges were withheld pending release of a report from the Jackson County medical examiner, who performed the autopsy in the case. Prosecutor Theresa Kenney indicated July 30 that she anticipated filing murder charges but was still awaiting autopsy findings and the issuance of a death certificate.

An autopsy report was sent to the prosecutor Aug. 12, and the Jasper County coroner issued a death certificate Wednesday of last week, ruling the case a homicide and the cause of death blunt force trauma.

The original counts of child abuse pertained to acts on four dates in April and May. A new probable-cause affidavit filed with the murder charges on Monday concerns abusive acts on the boy at the end of May that caused his death.

The affidavit states that medical staff at the hospital in Kansas City discovered bruising on the toddler's "ear, scalp, face, neck, jaw, chest and abdomen" as well as a broken rib, injury to his jaw, contusions of his liver and pancreas, and hemorrhaging in his brain and retinas.

The affidavit states: "In response to questioning by police, O'Grodnick admitted to repeatedly striking (the child) in the head and abdomen between May 30, 2020, and May 31, 2020."

Police were dispatched the morning of May 31 to an apartment in the 1900 block of East Eighth Street regarding an unconscious child who had stopped breathing. Lifesaving measures were administered to the boy before transport to a local emergency room. He subsequently was transferred to the hospital in Kansas City.

Police have identified O'Grodnick as the boyfriend of the child's mother, Graci Simpson, 29. 

The original counts of abuse are based on video evidence obtained from his cellphone. The original affidavit filed in the case states that O'Grodnick admitted making the videos and committing the abusive acts they depict.

In one video, O'Grodnick can be seen pinching together the corners of the boy's mouth. In another, he pinches the boy's face while forcing him to say certain things and then slaps him. In a third video, he chokes the child with a hand to his throat while making him beg for water and eventually punches him in the face.

In the fourth video, O'Grodnick grabs the boy by his hair, demands to know if he loves him and then shoves him away, according to the affidavit.

The prosecutor's office on Monday amended the original affidavit to include a paragraph stating that a clinical child therapist who reviewed the videos the suspect made told the police that the boy would have suffered significant emotional and mental trauma from the abuse as well as physical injury and that such trauma would have had long-term negative effects.