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Hartford man held without bail for allegedly killing toddler - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Hartford man held without bail for allegedly killing toddler

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Luke Theriault Luke Theriault
WOODSTOCK, Vt. -

More than a year after the death of a toddler, prosecutors have charged a Hartford man with murder.

Prosecutors say Luke Theriault, 31, assaulted the toddler with such severity that internal damage exceeded that of a car accident victims'.

Ex-girlfriends say Theriault has a history of delivering emotional and physical abuse, and for now he's held without bail.

Theriault wore a white T-shirt and shackles as he walked into Windsor County Superior Court Thursday.

Moments later, prosecutors charged him with second-degree murder for the death of his then-girlfriend's toddler July 3 last year.

Theriault's public defender spoke for him.

"He's going to waive any explanation of his rights and enter a not guilty plea," said Daniel Stevens, public defender.

Theriault covered his face after police arrested him Wednesday night following an investigation that covered more than a year and incorporated lie detector tests and fruitless wire-taped conversations.

Prosecutor David Cahill implied Theriault may have used brass knuckles to beat 2-year-old Jamaal Turkvan.

The New Hampshire medical examiner said the degree of blunt force trauma exhibited by the child is not even typically seen in car accident victims.

Theriault is one of only a few people who had contact with the toddler during the window when the assault occurred.

"During that time there were only three people present in Mr. Theriault's apartment. Those people were Mr. Theriault, the victim Jamaal Turkvan, and the victim's biological mother," said Cahill.

Theriault's has three children of his own. Their mothers say he physically and emotionally abused them and the kids. Theriault also has a significant criminal history in Vermont and New Hampshire.

"We don't think that the weight of the evidence is great," said Stevens.

Theriault's public defender argued his client has strong ties to the area and is not a flight risk, noting he chose not to flee during the extended investigation.

The judge ordered him held without bail, but prosecutors will need to show more evidence in about a week to ensure Theriault remains behind bars.

According to charging documents, police began to focus on Theriault after he suggested there might have been something wrong with the child's stomach.

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