WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – The man who was left alone with his live-in girlfriend’s child in November is now facing a murder charge stemming from the little boy’s death.
Arthur Harper, 43, is facing the murder charge, as well as felonious assault and endangering children charges, in relation to the death of 3-year-old Russell Cottrill.
The upgraded charge comes after the Cuyahoga County Coroner ruled the boy’s death a homicide.
“We have a long road ahead of us, but our department’s main goal is that justice is served for the three-year-old and the suspect in this case, Arthur Harper, goes to prison,” said Warren Police Detective Nick Carney.
Police said on November 28, Cottrill was home alone with Harper when he stopped breathing. Harper called 911 just after 6:30 p.m. asking rescue crews to come to the High Street home he shared with the boy’s mother.
Investigators said Cottrill suffered severe head trauma, with injuries to the top and back of his head.
Although detectives won’t go into detail about how the little boy got those injuries, his mother, Judith Owens, said she is still trying to process it all. She said it is hard to believe that Harper intentionally harmed her son.
“He’s not a bad man,” she said. “He would do anything for anybody. I can’t believe this is going on.”
Last month, a man who said he dated Owens for some time and got to know Cottrill well, said he saw Harper being rough with Cottrill.
“I’ve witnessed him grab ahold of that little boy’s arm and yank him out of the house, leaving fingerprints on his arm,” Lee Hodge said.
Harper remains in the Trumbull County Jail, awaiting his next court appearance. His arraignment is scheduled for January 14 before Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Ronald Rice