WASHINGTON – The US adoptive parents of a Russian boy will not be criminally charged over his death, a Texas official said Monday, after the three-year-old’s demise was deemed accidental.
Toddler Max Shatto’s body was heavily bruised when he died at a hospital near the west Texas town of Gardendale in January.
Claims by Russian officials that the boy, born Maxim Kuzmin, was tortured and murdered by his adoptive mother whipped up a storm of controversy less than two months after Russia banned US adoptions.
But on Monday, Bobby Bland, the district attorney for Ector County, where Gardendale is located, said “there is no evidence to support holding anybody criminally responsible.”
The local newspaper, the Odessa American, reported that Bland said a grand jury that looked into the case had found there was no evidence to indict the child’s adoptive parents, Alan and Laura Shatto.
Doctors determined on March 1 that the bruises were self-inflicted. “Based on all medical reasonable probability, the manner of death is accidental,” the Ector County Medical Examiner’s Office said.
The coroner also noted that Max Shatto had a mental disorder that caused him to hurt himself.
The autopsy concluded that Max – whose mother found him unconscious in the backyard and rushed him to hospital – died from a lacerated artery in his bowel due to blunt force trauma in his abdomen.
Russian officials accused the US adoptive parents of doping the boy with “psychoactive drugs,” though the toxicology report found no drugs or medicines in his system.
On March 2 thousands of people, including activists from pro-Kremlin children’s advocacy groups, marched through Moscow urging authorities to ban all foreign adoptions and demanding the return of Max’s two-year-old brother, who is also being raised by the Shattos.