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Texas Couple Cleared Of Adopted Russian Son's Death
A West Texas couple will not face charges in the death of their adopted Russian son.
Three-year-old Max Shatto died suddenly in January. The case sparked international attention after Russian officials claimed the boy was murdered.
"The truth of the matter is this was an accident. It's a tragic death involving a 3-year-old," Bobby Bland, Ector County district attorney, said. The couple lived in Gardendale, a town between Midland and Odessa.
Bland closed the criminal investigation into the child's death. The grand jury presiding over the case no billed the Shattos, meaning they will not face any criminal charges.
"This is based on the lack of any evidence to establish any fault at the hands of Alan and Laura Shatto," he said.
The autopsy report and investigation showed that there was no evidence of abuse. And any bruising was self-inflicted due to Shatto's previously diagnosed behavioral disorder.
The injury that ultimately resulted in Shatto's death has been ruled an accident most likely occurring while the boy was playing on a piece of playground equipment outside their Gardendale home.
"I guess you could call it a glider. It's not quite a see saw but it kind of looks like one," Bland said. "A child could be hit by this and it could have caused the damage that the autopsy found."
Bland says the doctors he spoke with agree that the injury was consistent with others caused by this piece of equipment. The report showed the boy was frail and undernourished when he was adopted out of Russia.
The family was doing what they could to improve his health, but a child in his state would have been more vulnerable than a healthy child, Bland said.
"This child was undernourished, very small for his age, also with the behavioral disorder...prone to hurt himself," Brand said. "Therefore it could have been something that would have gone generally unnoticed at the time."
While this could have happened at any point in the day, the report shows that it most likely happened during a 10 minute window during which Laura Shatto was dealing with an emergency in the house.