LEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Fort Myers man was arrested in connection with the “merciless homicide” of a Lee County toddler, deputies say.
On June 19, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call from a residence on the 2500 block of Zoysia Lane referencing Chevy Catalano, a 2-year-old boy in medical distress.
The child was immediately sent to Golisano Children’s Hospital where doctors determined he had suffered extensive bleeding and significant brain swelling, deputies say.
Due to the severity of his injuries, Chevy was airlifted to Miami Children’s Hospital where doctors discovered additional injuries and bruises to other areas of his body—none of which were consistent with common childhood injuries, deputies say. The medical staff informed law enforcement of the extensive injuries and said they suspected child abuse.
Catalano died from his injuries ten days later on June 29.
Investigators spent nearly a month looking into the circumstances surrounding Chevy’s death. They later determined 23-year-old Damien Palmer was responsible. Palmer is the live-in boyfriend of Amanda Strickland, 29, the child’s mother, and he would often watch Chevy while his mother was at work. They say Chevy was in the sole care of Mr. Palmer when he was injured on June 19.
Detectives obtained an arrest warrant and charged Palmer with one count of second-degree murder and one count of aggravated child abuse.
He turned himself into the sheriff’s office and was booked into the Lee County Jail on a $350,000 bond.
“As a law enforcement agency, we’re charged with responding to and investigating many distressing and disconcerting incidents that occur within our jurisdiction,” stated Undersheriff Carmine Marceno. In this instance, the Sheriff, our Major Crimes Unit and I all struggled with the merciless homicide of an innocent 2-year-old boy. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office will continue to work with the Office of the State Attorney to ensure that Mr. Palmer is never afforded the opportunity to injure another child.”
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