BALTIMORE (AP) — A Baltimore man who spent just shy of three years in prison for child abuse that caused the death of his infant son was charged Monday with killing his girlfriend's 18-month-old son as well.
Francois Browne is facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of toddler Zaray Gray, who died in recent days after suffering internal injuries and a broken clavicle.
In charging documents, Baltimore police wrote that Zaray stopped breathing while Browne was alone with the child inside a northwest Baltimore home. Browne had taken the toddler and other kids to a playground earlier in the day. Browne told investigators that Zaray fell while going down a slide. Police wrote the boy was found with a number of bruises, a broken clavicle, and tears to his bowels "likely caused by multiple blows to the abdomen."
Browne, 35, was convicted of child abuse resulting in death after his 7-month-old son Kendall suffered fractured ribs and bleeding in his brain in 2012. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison with four years suspended, but he was locked up for less than three years. He got out in 2015.
Browne is now held without bail in Zaray's death. Online court records didn't list an attorney for him.
A new Maryland law authorizes state health and human services officials to share and match birth records of parents whose parental rights have been terminated within the previous five years if they have a new baby.
But even with the recent expansion of the Maryland Birth Match statute, Browne would not have been brought to the attention of the Maryland Department of Human Services even after the death of his own son, according to Rachel White, a director with the Advocates for Children and Youth organization.
That's because Browne was convicted of child abuse resulting in the death of a child — which is not a triggering crime in the statute — and also because he was not Zaray's birth father, White said.
"This case is another example on why there is more work to be done to expand this statute and prevent more children from being susceptible to child abuse, neglect, or murder," White said Tuesday.
Dr. Dylan Stewart, director of pediatric trauma at Johns Hopkins Hospital, told The Baltimore Sun that the laws are "far too lenient" and Browne should have still been behind bars.
"I have a huge amount of concern for the level of child abuse in Baltimore," he told the newspaper. "Murdering a child should not have a different penalty than pulling the trigger and murdering an adult."