Babysitter charged with murder in death of Yorkville toddler

YORKVILLE, N.Y. (WKTV) - A 13 year old male is now facing a charge of second-degree murder, after a 2 1/2 year old female died while in his care over the weekend.

On Saturday, June 19, 2010 at approximately 8:54 a.m., the Village of Yorkville Police were dispatched to 1202 Ney Avenue in Yorkville for a report of an unresponsive child.

Due to the nature of the case, the police department requested assistance from the State Police.

The child, Melissa Calhoun, 2 ½ years old, was discovered unresponsive by her mother. The child was pronounced deceased a short time later and was sent to St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica pending an autopsy.

Authorities said that information received thus far indicates Calhoun was alive at 1 a.m. Saturday when the mother arrived home and checked on her. The autopsy was performed at St. Elizabeth Medical Center by Dr. Michael Sikiricia on Sunday, June 20 and determined the cause of death to be "cerebral edema and subdural hematomas due to blunt force trauma."

The investigation revealed that the child had been in the care of Alec Champagne, a 13-year old male babysitter, an 8th grader from Whitesboro, the night before and that Champagne had caused the injuries which resulted in her death.

Champagne is accused of striking the 2 1/2 year old in the face with his hand; shoving her so that she forcefully hit her head on the floor and a table; hitting her with a refrigerator door and repeatedly sexually assalting her, causing her to hemorrhage, authorities said.

State Police said Champagne, who was a family friend, had babysat the child in the past.

District Attorney McNamara said that if convicted, Champagne could face a minimum of five years to life in prison and a maximum of nine years to life in prison. Champagne is being represented by Attorney Richard Bach.

The New York State Penal Law allows those under 16 years of age to be designated as Juvenile Offenders on a certain few of the most serious crimes.

The only crime that a 13-year old may be charged with as a Juvenile Offender is Murder in the Second Degree.

"Obviously he is presumed innocent at this point and these are merely allegations placed against him," McNamara said.

When asked if Champagne had any prior convictions that McNamara was aware of, the District Attorney said he did not believe so, but presumed no.

"I couldn't answer that if it was true," McNamara said. "But I presume no."

Based on the results of the investigation and the autopsy, the suspect is being arraigned in the Town of Floyd Court for second-degree murder and will be sent to a secure facility under the control of the State Office of Children and Family Services, formerly the Division for Youth.

Champagne pleaded not-guilty at his Monday arraignment, and will return to Town of Floyd Court at 2 p.m. on Friday, June 25.

Officials said the investigation is still ongoing, and as of Monday afternoon, they were not charging anyone else in the case.

"At this point, this is the only charge we're considering filing right now," McNamara said. "Our investigation continues. At this point, there's still a lot of work to be done int his case."

When asked if he thought it was a little rough to be charging a teenager with murder, McNamara said he felt it was appropriate.

"If you're looking at it from the view of a 2 1/2 year old looking up to a 13 year old, yes," McNamara said. "She deserves justice."

What's On