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2 accused in toddler's death appear in court

Posted at 6:30 AM, May 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-06 17:58:02-04

TULSA – A couple charged in the death of a toddler appeared in court Friday.

Police and prosecutors say the couple is responsible for the death of 2-year-old Michael Rigney. Investigators say the boy was kicked in the head and knocked unconscious before his death in February.

Originally, police arrested the stepfather of the child, Branden Taylor, who faces charges of child abuse murder and child neglect.

The mother of the child, Tina, told 2 Works for You that she was with her mother when the incident occurred and when she returned home Taylor told her the boy was asleep.

The next morning police were called to the home to find Michael Rigney dead. Not long after, police arrested Tina on accusations of child abuse and permitting child abuse.

The state called around three witnesses to testify on behalf of the circumstances surrounding Michael Rigney’s death. Reports showed that Taylor admitted to kicking the toddler in the head in reaction to him being bit by the child.

Initially he told detectives that Michael Rigney was out cold and he didn’t seek medical attention. On Friday, however, it was brought to light that Taylor gave conflicting reports and originally blamed Tina Morgan for the death.

Child Crisis Case detective Audrey Thompson testified Taylor said Tina Morgan was responsible and that she was crazy.

Current visits to the child’s home by DHS are also in question. The detective revealed an investigation may have been in place before Michael Rigney’s death.

Michael Rigney's grandparents recently made the first step to filing a lawsuit. They sent DHS a governmental tort claims notice asking for $5 million on behalf of their grandson.

Attorney Scott Tully says he's filed a governmental tort claims notice to DHS suggesting an improper investigation, or failure to investigate. The family is claiming this ultimately leading to Micheal's death.

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