Crime & Courts

Image of 3-year-old Evan in chains ends first week of murder trial

Jurors got their first look at the horrific abuse 3-year-old Evan Brewer suffered while he was still alive on the fourth day of testimony of his accused killer’s trial.

At the end of the day Friday, prosecutor Alice Osburn called Sgt. Christian Cory, the lead homicide detective on the case, to the witness stand so she could question him about how authorities obtained videos and photographs captured by home surveillance system Evan’s mother and her boyfriend, Stephen Bodine, set up in the rental house where they lived at 2037 S. Vine.

Cory explained that he used search warrants to subpoena information from a storage cloud that much of the surveillance footage, which was shot with cellphones, had been uploaded to.

Among it were videos and photos dated March 12, 2017 — just more than two months before Bodine allegedly hauled Evan into the home’s bathroom after slapping him and didn’t emerge until the boy wasn’t breathing. Evan’s mom tried to give him CPR but he didn’t revive.

While Cory testified, prosecutors put just one photo up on a TV screen for jurors to see.

It shows Evan, sweet face and dark hair, right after he turned 3. He stands naked in a basement corner with his hands behind his back. There’s a chain or collar around his neck.

Evan Brewer Courtesy photo

The photo was a climax in an otherwise slowly building presentation prosecutors have made to jurors throughout the week.

So far, jurors have heard about abuse reports made on Evan’s behalf to the state’s child protection agency, how for months Evan’s mom and Bodine refused to disclose the boy’s whereabouts to his father and how their landlord found the concrete block that eventually became Evan’s tomb in the laundry room of his home.

Jurors have seen photos showing how authorities painstaking chiseled Evan out of the concrete block and ones taken during his autopsy that show a barely recognizable body. Friday morning, they were taken to an off-site location to inspect what’s left of the tomb in person.

But starting Monday, jurors will witness firsthand through the home surveillance footage the beatings, verbal abuse and torture Evan was forced to endure from March 2017 through his death on or around May 19, 2017.

Bodine, 41, is being tried for first-degree murder, child abuse, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated child endangerment in connection with Evan’s death. He has pleaded not guilty.

Evan’s mother, Miranda Miller, is also facing charges but she’s worked out a deal with prosecutors that would allow her to plead guilty to second-degree murder and spend about 27 years in prison if she testifies against Bodine.

She admitted at a hearing in April to participating in Evan’s abuse and to helping purchase the materials needed to create her son’s concrete burial block. She’s expected to take the witness stand when her boyfriend’s trial resumes next week.

Seeing the photo of Evan, naked and chained in the basement, wasn’t easy for those in the courtroom Friday afternoon.

Cory choked up on the witness stand as he briefly described images that show some of Evan’s abuse that night.

Osburn’s voice broke when she asked the judge to end the day’s proceedings early.

Several people sitting the courtroom gallery teared up. Some of the jurors, at times, averted their eyes.

Amy Renee Leiker: 316-268-6644, @amyreneeleiker

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