According to court records, a boy who died in east Alabama last week was fatally beaten.
Jessie Taylor McCormack, 6, died Friday at the Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham. His father, 29-year-old Joshua D. Clark, is charged with capital murder.
Newly released court records say Jessie was “beaten by a belt or belt-like object and hands.”
Jessie’s younger brother, 18-month-old Enzo McCormack, died in 2019. The boys’ mother, Samantha McCormack, and her boyfriend, Robert Elmore, are facing capital murder charges in Blount County in Enzo’s death.
Authorities noted at the time of Enzo’s death that Jessie also showed signs of abuse at the time, including bruises under his ears and chin, and a fractured skull similar to the one that contributed to his little brother’s death.
Enzo’s twin sister is now the only surviving sibling.
Last Wednesday, Anniston police officers were called to Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center over a child molestation case, Lt. Tim Suits.
They arrived to find the medical staff treating the unconscious Jessie.
The boy was taken to Children’s of Alabama with non-life-threatening injuries. Clark, his father, was questioned by detectives and charged with aggravated child molestation.
Jessie died on Friday. This is when the authorities received the capital murder warrant.
Under Aniah’s law, Clark is being held without bond in the Calhoun County Jail.
Jessie was in his father’s care at the time of his death.
Clark and McCormack wed in 2018 and split just two months later, court records show.
They had three children together, first Jessie, who was born in April 2016, and Enzo and his twin sister, who were born in 2018, four months before their parents got married.
Enzo died at Children’s of Alabama on September 9, 2019. His death came three days after he was seriously injured.
McCormack and her boyfriend Elmore were both charged with capital murder after Enzo’s death.
They have been in the Blount County Jail since their arrest in 2019.
The indictment documents echo a number of conflicting stories told by McCormack and Elmore about how the boy was seriously injured.
Sheriff’s detective Edward Hull wrote in documents that he interviewed McCormack, who told authorities she was home with the children while they ate, and she went to the other room to use the bathroom.
Then, she said, she heard something fall and returned to the children to find the 18-month-old had choked and fallen. She told the lawyers she cleaned his mouth and he stopped gagging. That was around 5:40 p.m
A while later, she said, she noticed he wasn’t feeling well, so she gave him a bath and decided to take him to the hospital. S
He waited until their grandmother came from Oneonta to take care of the other children – the victim’s twin sister and then three-year-old Jessie.
She then drove to the hardware store. While waiting in line to pay for gas, she told a worker her son was injured and fell at home. The worker went to the car and saw that the boy was limp. She called 911.
While first responders waited for the airlift to arrive, Elmore Jr. and his parents, along with the victim’s two siblings, showed up at the scene and said he received a message from McCormack that the boy was ill.
Elmore told investigators he went to McCormack’s grandmother’s home to pick up the other two children. When asked, however, he was unable to give MPs his grandmother’s address or telephone number.
Deputies went to the home where McCormack said the fall happened, only to find McCormack didn’t live there and hadn’t been there, records say. At the time, the investigator noted in the records, McCormack admitted she was living with Elmore on Lanningham Road in Cleveland.
Investigators went there to record the crime scene.
Human Resources was also called to check on the well-being of the victim’s twin and older brother.
Hull, the investigator, learned the boy had been wrapped in a Hunt Brothers pizza bag when he arrived at the store and then at the hospital. He also learned that the siblings were taken to the hospital to be checked for possible abuse.
He noted in the indictment that Elmore told several stories about the events of that day. He first denied hurting the boy, then basically said he accidentally dropped him while retrieving him from a playpen.
Noticing the boy was injured, he said he texted McCormack, who said to wait until she got home from work. He said he’s keeping the kids because he lost his job a few months ago.
Meanwhile, doctors determined the boy’s twin sister had no injuries, but the 3-year-old brother – Jessie – also had bruises behind his ears and under his chin and a fractured skull similar to his little brother’s. Elmore denied hurting the 3-year-old.
McCormack and Elmore have been interviewed numerous times. Eventually, according to records, McCormack admitted that she lied about where she lived and with whom.
Deputies learned the child had been removed from McCormack’s care on October 16, 2018.
A protection from abuse was obtained by McCormack against Elmore in March 2019 and the children were returned to McCormack on June 17, 2019.
Hull noted the following injuries for the Enzo in the 2019 documents – head trauma, closed head trauma, brain injury, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, multiple retinal hemorrhages, and multiple contusions to the head and body.
The boy, the filing states, was a “victim of a severe beating and shaking injury. There was no plausible accidental injury to explain his many injuries. So this is physical abuse. It would take an adult to lift him up and cause those injuries. If the story is true, the only adults at home were the mother and mother’s boyfriend. He would have been symptomatic immediately after the injury and would not appear normal to anyone watching him.”
Hull interviewed Elmore again and it was then that Elmore stated that he picked up the boy, who then grabbed his chest hair. “He lost his temper,” the investigator wrote.
He said he let go of the boy who hit the playpen and then the floor. Elmore said he then picked him up and shook him because he wasn’t responding.
Jessie was discharged from the hospital and both he and Enzo’s twin were taken into DHR custody.
It was only after Enzo’s death and the arrests of McCormack and Elmore that Clark filed for divorce from McCormack. Ultimately, Clark got custody of Jessie and Enzo’s twin sister.
Enzo’s twin sister is now back in DHR custody.
A hearing date for Clark has not yet been announced. The court records do not list an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
McCormack and Elmore are scheduled to stand trial over Enzo’s death later this year.