Special Deputy Brian White (from left), Special Deputy Matt Armstrong, Special Deputy Kenneth Jasper, and Deputy Ben Flint escort Christopher Keller back to jail after the court session. (Photo by WKMNews/Aaron Lux)
Special Deputy Brian White (from left), Special Deputy Matt Armstrong, Special Deputy Kenneth Jasper, and Deputy Ben Flint escort Christopher Keller back to jail after the court session. (Photo by WKMNews/Aaron Lux)

By COLLIN OVERTON and MARK CAMPBELL

Courier staff writers

A 36-year-old Madison man, Christopher Ray Keller, is being held on a $4 million full cash bond and facing up to 40 years in prison charged with attempted murder and 68 other felonies after an investigation by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department reviewed videos of battery of Keller’s 18-month old stepson, who was left in his care while the boy’s mother was away at work.

Keller, the woman’s husband and the boy’s stepfather, is charged with beating, strangling, choking and dropping the boy numerous times on June 7, 2019, causing compression fractures to the toddler’s spine and numerous bruises.

Keller was initially charged on July 25 with one count of battery to a child younger than 14 and one count of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury, both Level 3 felonies. His bond was set at $100,000 cash.

However, after an ongoing investigation by the sheriff’s department, including videos of several of the alleged assaults, an additional attempted murder charge and 66 other charges ranging from battery to neglect and contributing to the delinquency of a minor were added to the case, along with a request that Keller’s bond be increased to $2 million full cash.

Circuit Judge D.J. Mote spent more than 40 minutes reading the new list of charges at a hearing in Jefferson Circuit Court Monday. He also heard testimony from JCSO Det. Yancey Denning and Chief Deputy John Wallace, viewed photos of the boy’s injuries and video captured on a surveillance camera at the home before not only agreeing to a higher bond, but setting that bond at $4 million full cash.

Denning testified that he was notified by Teresa Scroggins on Aug. 5 that video evidence of the abuse existed. Scroggins had received videos found by her daughter, Stephanie Klare, the mother of one of Keller’s children, the day before. He applied for a search warrant on Aug. 6 and seized an SD card with the footage.

Several minutes of the video was shown at the hearing to the objection of Keller’s attorney, Devon Sharpe, who argued that showing it was inflammatory. However, Mote allowed the video be shown in order to decide on the bond motion.

The video recovered by police, about 11 hours of footage overall edited down to a few minutes for Monday’s hearing, shows Keller repeatedly striking his 18-month-old stepson in the face and legs, throwing him against furniture, dropping him from as high as six feet off the ground and dragging him by his legs and hair.

The video was date and time stamped on May 25, 2019, but police cannot verify that date since the surveillance system was removed from the home prior to execution of the search warrant. The boy’s mother, Kylia Keller, left the home for her second shift job on June 7. She returned at 11:45 p.m. and discovered the injuries the next morning.

Kylia Keller reported the injuries to police and took the boy to the hospital. He was later taken to Riley Children’s Hospital, where doctors found six anterior wedge fractures in his spine. He has since been released from the hospital, but is receiving ongoing medical treatment, said David Sutter, Jefferson County prosecutor.

The video also shows Keller instructing and encouraging another child to push and jump on the boy. Keller can be seen striking the second child, a 2-year-old, in the footage.

Another part of the video shows Keller placing a third child, a 5-month-old infant, in his stepson’s arms. The child lost control and dropped the infant on the floor.

Wallace testified at the bond hearing that Keller had made threatening social media posts to his wife warning her that there would be repercussions if she or anyone else pursued the charges against him, especially if it jeopardized his ability to be with his daughter. He also told her that the boy’s injuries were caused when the toddler and his 2-year-old daughter engaged in “horse play” and she “kicked his butt.”

Sutter said the charges “speak for themselves” and the high bond sends a message that allowing Keller out of jail before he can be tried not only presents a risk for flight, but a threat to those involved in the case.

“It shows that he is not only a risk to the children in these videos, but any other person in the community,” Mote said.

Attempted murder, a Level A felony carries a prison sentence of 20 to 40 years if convicted and up to a $10,000 fine. If convicted, at least 20 years of any sentence would have to be served. The other charges include 16 Level 3 felonies ranging from aggravated battery to battery, 51 Level 5 felonies ranging from battery to contributing to the delinquency of a minor and neglect of a minor to one Level 6 felony for neglect of a dependent.


Original story published in The Madison Courier 8/13/2019 and online 8/12/2019 3:33 PM

By COLLIN OVERTON

and MARK CAMPBELL

Courier staff writers

A 36-year-old Madison man is being held on a $4 million full cash bond and facing up to 40 years in prison after being charged with attempted murder and 68 other felonies in connection with the alleged ongoing battery of his 18-month old stepson, who was left in his care while the boy’s mother was away at work.

Christopher Ray Keller, the woman’s husband and the boy’s stepfather, is alleged to have beaten, strangled, choked and dropped the boy numerous times between July 25 and Aug. 5, causing compression fractures to the toddler’s spine and numerous bruises.

Keller was initially charged with one count of battery to a child under the age of 14 and one count of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury, both Level 3 felonies. His bond was set at $100,000 cash.

However, after an ongoing investigation by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, including videos of several of the alleged assaults, an additional attempted murder charge and 66 other charges ranging from battery to neglect and contributing to the delinquency of a minor were added to the case, along with a request that Keller’s bond be increased to $2 million full cash.

Circuit Judge D.J. Mote spent more than 40 minutes reading the new list of charges at a hearing in Jefferson Circuit Court Monday. He also heard testimony from JCSO Det. Yancey Denning and Chief Deputy John Wallace, viewed photos of the boy’s injuries and video captured on a surveillance camera at the home before not only agreeing to a higher bond, but setting that bond at $4 million full cash.

Denning testified that he was notified by Teresa Scroggins on Aug. 5 that video evidence of the abuse existed. Scroggins had received videos found by Stephanie Klare, the mother of one of Keller’s children, the day before. He applied for a search warrant on Aug. 6 and seized an SD card with the footage.

Several minutes of the video was shown at the hearing to the objection of Keller’s attorney, Devon Sharpe, who argued that showing it was inflammatory. However, Mote allowed the video be shown in order to decide on the bond motion.

The video recovered by police, about 21 hours of footage overall edited down to a few minutes for Monday’s hearing, shows Keller repeatedly striking his 18-month-old stepson in the face and legs, throwing him against furniture, dropping him from as high as six feet off the ground and dragging him by his legs and hair.

The child was taken to Riley Children’s Hospital, where doctors found six anterior wedge fractures in his spine. He has since been released from the hospital, but is receiving ongoing medical treatment, said David Sutter, Jefferson County prosecutor.

The video also shows Keller instructing and encouraging another child to push and jump on the boy. Keller can be seen striking the second child, a 2-year-old, in the footage.

Another part of the video shows Keller placing a third child, a 5-month-old infant, in his stepson’s arms. The child lost control and dropped the infant on the floor.

Wallace testified at the bond hearing that Keller had made threatening social media posts to his wife, Kylia Keller, warning her that there would be repercussions if she or anyone else pursued the charges against him, especially if it jeopardized his ability to be with his daughter. He also told her that the boy’s injuries were caused when the toddler and his 2-year-old daughter engaged in “horse play” and she “kicked his butt.”

Sutter said the charges “speak for themselves” and the high bond sends a message that allowing Keller out of jail before he can be tried not only presents a risk for flight, but a threat to those involved in the case.

“It shows that he is not only a risk to the children in these videos, but any other person in the community,” Mote said.

Attempted murder, a Level A felony carries a prison sentence of 20 to 40 years if convicted and up to a $10,000 fine. If convicted, at least 20 years of any sentence would have to be served. The other charges include 16 Level 3 felonies ranging from aggravated battery to battery, 51 Level 5 felonies ranging from battery to contributing to the delinquency of a minor and neglect of a minor to one Level 6 felony for neglect of a dependent.