Police: Toddler was shaken before death

Nehemiah Dodd

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) – Police have released new information in the death of a 2-year-old boy whose father has been charged with his murder.

The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety told 24 Hour News 8 Friday that autopsy results lead them to believe the Nehemiah Dodd was shaken before his death.

Police said his dad, 40-year-old Brian Roberts, told authorities Nehemiah was injured when he fell down some stairs at their Kalamazoo home on New Year’s Eve..

The Kalamazoo County Prosecutor’s Office issued charges of felony murder and first-degree child abuse against Roberts Thursday.

Brian Roberts. (May 22, 2014)
(Brian Roberts)

Police responded to a report at a home on W. Frank Street on Dec. 31, 2013.and found Nehemiah unconscious and not breathing. Several days later, the boy died at the hospital.

Just a month earlier, Kalamazoo County Family Court decided to take Nehemiah taken away from his mother and sent to live with Roberts.

The toddler and his older brother were removed from the home of their mother, Angelena Dodd, after she was arrested for driving a stolen car while in possession of crack cocaine. The two boys were passengers in the stolen car at the time.

24 Hour News 8 spoke with Dodd Thursday, and she said she didn’t know what would cause someone to abuse Nehemiah.

“I don’t think my child could make somebody even go off the deep end like that, so I don’t know why he did what he did,” Dodd said. “I don’t know. I’m looking for answers myself. I couldn’t see Nehemiah doing anything to be dead.”

Roberts has a history that includes charges of sexual assault and domestic violence, according to prosecutors.

24 Hour News 8 couldn’t find the domestic violence case, but records show he was charged when he was 25 with having sex with a 14-year-old girl. The case was dismissed after prosecutors couldn’t find a key witness.

Roberts also has convictions for fleeing police, misdemeanor assault and his latest in late 2012 for selling marijuana.

Roberts is being held at the Kalamazoo County Jail on a $250,000 bond.

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