GREENCASTLE, Pa. – Three-year-old Logan Starliper had been dead for almost a day before 911 was called. Methamphetamines and buprenorphine, an opioid used to treat drug addiction, have been found in toddler’s system. She died of mixed toxicity on January 5, 2018.
As she lay dead on her bed, her mother’s boyfriend, Brian Bennett, went out to buy more meth and did several Google searches for pediatric CPR.
“It was horrible, I just panicked,” he testified during his court trial this week. “I didn’t want to come down from the top.”
Bennett, 32, of Greencastle, and Thomas Keogh, 66, of Connecticut, were on trial this week on a litany of charges related to Logan’s death.
The abuse began long before January 5, 2018, photos shown during the trial showed. In a home where Bennett and Logan’s mother Brittany Higgins were on methamphetamine, the anger at the kids for getting in their way often turned physical.
Bennett, who was not the biological father of Logan or his older brother Landon, also testified that he would physically discipline the children.
“There were times when it was discipline and there were times when I maybe hit them too hard,” Bennett said.
Disturbing photos from the crime scene showed the little girl dressed in Hello Kitty pajamas and surrounded by stuffed animals. Blunt trauma was noted on Logan’s forehead, along with red, irritated marks around his mouth and cheeks which expert pathologist Dr Samuel Land said was from vomiting sitting on his skin for an extended period of time. .
But it wasn’t just a case of child abuse. The Starliper case has been a tumultuous one, with nine people initially charged with varying levels of involvement in the past three and a half years since Logan’s death.
Seven defendants in the case have entered into plea deals, including Higgins, who pleaded indisputably in December 2019 and is currently serving a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison. Other defendants have pleaded guilty to delivering drugs that resulted in death, felony charges of corrupt organization and conspiracy, among other related charges.
Over the past two weeks, dozens of witnesses have been called and nearly 500 exhibits have been presented in court.
The courtroom was packed on Thursday morning, with many assistants dressed in purple. Color was Logan’s favorite.
Ironically, it’s also the color that means September is the month of national recovery.
After days of testimony from experts, law enforcement and others indicted in the case, defense attorney Michael Palermo called his own client, Bennett, to the stand.
Bennett was outspoken about his regular drug use at the time of Logan’s death. He described himself as a “functional addict”.
Photos of Logan presented during the trial showed signs of abuse, bruising and injuries long before his death.
But Bennett insisted under oath that he tried to treat the two children as if they were his own.
In cross-examination, District Attorney Matt Fogal pushed Bennett on some points, including why he had a video on his phone, later deleted, of Logan lying dead in his bed.
“I took the video by accident,” Bennett said.
The 911 call was made nearly 12 hours after Logan was found dead.
Fogal repeatedly asked Bennett if he felt responsible for Logan’s death. Bennett did not provide a direct response, saying he was unclear on certain details as of that day. However, he has repeatedly said that he is now a changed man.
Discrepancies between the “accidental” video on Bennett’s phone that was taken that morning and photos from the crime scene show that the clothes on Logan’s body had been changed between 10 a.m. when Bennett discovered the body. and after 9 p.m. when emergency personnel arrived.
During the trial, Palermo criticized the prosecution’s decision to offer a plea of no contest to Higgins.
He reminded the jury of a text Higgins sent the night Logan died, just at bedtime.
“I’m just going to keep beating her – reminding her of what she did because I love beating her now.”
Testimonies, phone tapes, deadlines, interview tapes, an autopsy report, and search warrant evidence implicated Bennett.
“Knowingly bringing methamphetamine, an illicit drug, into the home is malicious,” District Attorney Fogal said, seeking a murder conviction. “The number one responsibility of my daughter and son-in-law is to make sure my grandson doesn’t die. It’s not that difficult. It should have been seen coming a mile away. It was inevitable. . It’s sick. “
Showing a picture of Logan, smiling for the camera, he begged the jury to remember the child that way.
“Don’t remember the ugliest ones,” he said. “If you think of her, remember this one.”
After four hours of deliberation, a jury delivered its verdict.
Bennett was acquitted of third degree murder, the most serious charge against him, but was convicted of manslaughter in Logan’s death.
He was also convicted of delivering a controlled substance, two counts of endangering the well-being of children, criminal use of a means of communication and possession of sexually-related accessories. drug. He was acquitted of the delivery of the drugs resulting in death.
Keogh was convicted of all counts, including delivery of drugs resulting in death, delivery of a controlled substance, criminal use of a means of communication and a corrupt organization.
Bennett and Keogh’s sentencing is scheduled to take place on November 10, where families and friends will have the opportunity to read victim impact statements.
Follow Carley Bonk on Twitter: @carls_marie.