Man and toddler's mother had dispute before child sustained skull fracture

July 27, 2013 

A day before 2-year-old William Robert Powell sustained a fractured skull, the boy’s step father and his mother had a verbal dispute so violent that he kicked a door off the hinges at their Lon Drive home, Columbus police testified during a Recorder’s Court hearing today.

Robert Guy Keller, 28, pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in the June 9 death of the toddler at Scottish Rite Hospital in Atlanta. Judge Michael Joyner ordered Keller held without bond in the Muscogee County Jail and bound the case over to Muscogee Superior Court.

Police Detective Ivan Rome testified that Keller had a verbal dispute with his girlfriend Ashley Keller, the boy’s mother, a day before the child was found unresponsive in a bedroom sometime between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. on June 7 at 4433 Lon Drive. “He physically kicked the door off the hinges,” Rome said.

The toddler was first taken to The Medical Center in Columbus before it was transferred to the children’s hospital in Atlanta. An investigation into the death revealed the child had what appeared to be a hand print on the head which wasn’t accidental. A report from the medical examiner indicated some force was used to cause the injury.

Keller was the last person to see the child alive before he discovered it unresponsive early that morning. At the time, there were two other siblings, the mother, an uncle and Keller at the home.

Rome testified that Keller and the woman were married but the couple had divorced. They were living together at the home with the children. During an interview with Sgt. Matt Blackstock, the detective said Keller stated the child plays rough. The injury didn’t match what the GBI crime lab found as a cause of the injury.

Blackstock said some blood was found on a sheet and pillow case in the child’s bedroom.

There were also some dispute about the child concerning discipline. The mother had the child while Keller was serving overseas in the military, Blackstock said. The detective didn’t specify whether the couple were married at that time.

“There was a problem there with the relationship,” he testified.

Keller, who was represented by public defender Charles Lykins, stood silent during the hearing and didn’t testify.

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