A 24-year-old Michigan man will likely spend several decades behind bars after pleading no contest to accusations that he killed his girlfriend’s 17-month-old son earlier this year by smashing the child into the ground multiple times. Alex John Radulovic on Monday agreed to accept punishment on one count of second-degree murder and one count of second-degree child abuse in the death of young Alexander “Xan” Butler, records reviewed by Law&Crime show.
By pleading no contest to the charges, Radulovic effectively accepted his conviction without a formal admission of guilt. A no-contest plea has the same effect as a guilty plea at sentencing.
Radulovic was initially charged with one count of first-degree premeditated murder and one count of first-degree child abuse, but those charges were reduced as part of a plea deal reached with prosecutors, according to a report from Grand Rapids-based newspaper consortium MLive. As part of the agreement, Radulovic is reportedly expected to receive a minimum sentence of 18 to 31 years in prison.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, Radulovic on the morning of Feb. 5 was watching Xan, his girlfriend’s son, at their home in the Weston Apartments located in the 100 block of West Street SW in downtown Grand Rapids. The child’s mother, Alissa Butler, reportedly left at approximately 5:45 a.m. that day.
At approximately 9 a.m., officers with the Grand Rapids Police Department and Emergency Medical Services personnel responded to a 911 call from the couple’s residence about a baby that was not breathing. The caller was later identified as Radulovic.
Upon arriving at the scene, EMS paramedics attempted to resuscitate Xan, whom they described as having “purple lips,” per a report from MLive. Xan was transported to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital but was pronounced dead a short while after arriving at the facility.
Under questioning about the circumstances of Xan’s death, investigators said Radulovic initially offered conflicting stories about what happened before allegedly admitting growing frustrated and ruthlessly killing the baby.
Radulovic reportedly told investigators that he was “kneeling on the ground when he wrapped his fingers around Xan’s chest and slammed the child to the ground two to three times,” per Grand Rapids FOX affiliate WXMI. “After that, Radulovic reportedly told police that he tried to splash water on the child’s face, but the baby didn’t wake up.”
Instead of seeking medical attention for the child, Radulovic allegedly put Xan back in his crib and left him alone in the apartment “for some time” while he went for a walk, smoked a cigarette, and met up with a friend.
The friend returned to Radulovic’s home and reportedly told investigators that he heard Xan “groan.” He went to investigate and reportedly said that the baby had “severe bruising around his head and purple lips.” That is when Radulovic reportedly called 911.
Asked what motivated him to savagely slam the baby into the ground multiple times, Radulovic allegedly told cops that Xan’s “fussiness, crying, and irritability” drove him to harm the boy. He also reportedly said that he was angry at the fact that Alissa left him alone with Xan when the baby “gets like that.”
Radulovic subsequently said he “got upset and accidentally did the wrong thing,” per the affidavit.
Radulovic is currently scheduled to appear before 17th Circuit Court Judge Mark A. Trusock on Dec. 8 for a sentencing hearing.
[image via Kent County Detention Center]
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