Fort Myers man facing murder charge in infant’s death
A Fort Myers man is facing a murder charge after the baby he is accused of beating died.
Darwin Costello, born Feb. 23, died at 8:30 p.m. Thursday from the “massive injuries” he suffered on Sunday, June 13, officials with the Lee County Sheriff’s office said. The infant had spent the past four days on life support at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.
Ryan Costello, 31, of 15790 Portofino Springs Boulevard, Unit #1801 was subsequently charged with one count of first degree murder. Because of the victim’s age and nature of the crime, this charge qualifies as a capital felony, officials said.
Costello remains in the Lee County Jail.
The District 21 Medical Examiner will determine an official cause of death of the baby.
Darwin suffered massive head trauma, broken bones, bruises and signs of strangulation while in Costello’s care, officials had said Monday.
Costello was originally charged with one count each of aggravated child abuse, child neglect, manufacture of marijuana, possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia and two counts of misdemeanor battery after surrendering to authorities Sunday night.
Deputies received the call about an infant dropped off at an emergency room with severe injuries at 2:17 a.m. Sunday. Deputies responding to Lee Memorial Health Park Hospital were told the little boy had been handed to a nurse by a male adult. The man then ran to a black SUV and left.
The child’s injuries required he be transport to All Children’s Hospital.
Detectives with the Sheriff’s Office Child Abuse Unit identified the man who dropped the infant off at the hospital as Costello and that the infant had been in the care and custody of Costello.
According to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, their investigation reveals the child’s mother returned home from a local bar around 2 a.m. A physical altercation occurred between the suspect, a friend and Costello outside the home. Once the friend left, the woman was knocked to the floor and beaten. She pretended to be unconscious and Costello retreated to a bedroom. As she got up from the living room floor, she noticed her son lying on a cushion, unresponsive and struggling to breathe. She immediately took the child and began to run to the hospital. Moments later, Costello pulled up in the SUV and drove the two to the emergency room, officials said.
Costello surrendered to detectives Sunday night. He was arrested and transported to the Lee County Jail.
Meanwhile, the baby’s mother has been arrested on unrelated charges.
Deputies investigating the child abuse case were also told a 21-month old child had been left home alone while family responded to the Lee Memorial Health Park Hospital emergency room. A deputy went to the residence and found the garage and front doors wide open. The child was found alone and unharmed. When entering the home the deputy observed marijuana plants in plain view.
Members of the Sheriff’s Office Special Victim’s Unit, Narcotics Unit and Forensics Unit collaborated in continuance of the investigation. A search warrant was requested, granted and served at the residence on Sunday. Four marijuana plants, a small plastic bag of cocaine and drug paraphernalia were located throughout the home. In the second floor bedroom, a marijuana cultivating operation was discovered with 25 planters of soil, overhead lights, fans and an air conditioning duct modified to cool the lights, officials said, adding trails of soil, the disturbed pots and other evidence indicated numerous plants had been moved recently.
Detectives arrested and charged Whitney Simonson, 24, with one count each of marijuana manufacturing, possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.
She was subsequently charged with two counts of felony opium or derivative trafficking after investigators, acting on information from the Drug Enforcement Administration, say they found more than 1,000 pills of a narcotic in the kitchen.
She has been released on bond. According to Lee County Jail records, bond was set at $60,000.
Source: Lee County Sheriff’s Office