Toddler Death Trial


Meridian, Miss. The trial for a man accused in the death of a local toddler started Monday in Lauderdale County Circuit Court.

Justin Clearman, 27, is charged with manslaughter and child neglect for the 2010 death of his now-former girlfriend's son, Landon Tanner.

The state says autopsy results showed that the child died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Investigators say when the trauma occurred the toddler was in Clearman's care at the house that Clearman and the child's mother shared in Causeyville.

Here's a timeline of events surrounding the two-year-old's death: Landon was injured on September 14, 2010; a local hospital reported those injuries two days later; after being airlifted to Jackson, Landon died and an autopsy was ordered on September 23, 2010.

Clearman's trial had been delayed at least three times. Initially, he was charged with murder. He was later indicted for manslaughter.

A jury of six men and six women were chosen Monday morning. During opening statements, prosecutors told jurors that they will prove that Clearman failed to supervise properly, according to the child's age. They are also accusing him of not seeking medical treatment for Landon in a timely manner.

Meanwhile, the opposing counsel called the court's attention to an incident that happened at the daycare Landon attended not long before his death. In that incident, the defense attorney said Landon suffered dental injuries. Contending that Clearman acted responsibly with Landon, at one point the suspect's attorney referred to Landon's death as a 'tragic accident.'

Landon's mother, father, paternal grandmother and paternal great-grandmother testified Monday. Medical experts are expected to testify Tuesday. The trial is expected to end Wednesday.

If found guilty, Clearman could face 20 years in prison for the manslaughter charge, and an additional 5 years in prison for the charge of child neglect.


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