Permanently injured Kansas child awarded $109 million

HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas child who suffered permanent brain damage and blindness when he was beaten by his mother’s boyfriend has received a $109 million court judgment against the man accused of attacking him.

Romeo Whitebird was 7 months old when he was injured by Koylen Corbin McKinney in April 2014 at a Holton apartment complex. The boy is now 2 and will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life, an attorney for his mother said.

McKinney, who is serving a nine-year prison sentence for injuring the boy, is a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota, which entitles him to royalties from oil production for the rest of his life, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Attorney Dan Lykins, who represented the child and his mother, Larissa Whitebird, said it was doubtful his clients would ever collect the entire $109 million awarded to them after Friday’s hearing at Jackson County District Court in Holton. But the oil production royalties scheduled to go to McKinney would be transferred to a supplemental needs trust fund for Romeo to pay for medical care not covered by insurance or Medicaid. And if McKinney is released from prison, efforts will be made to garnish his wages.

“This is just a part of justice,” Lykins said Monday. “Even though he and his mother may not see a lot of this money, it lets them know we haven’t forgotten Romeo.”

McKinney didn’t respond to the lawsuit and didn’t attend any of the court proceedings, Lykins said.

Besides permanent blindness and brain damage, Romeo will always need a feeding tube and travels to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, every week for treatment.

Lykins said Romeo was beaten while his mother was working at the Sac ‘n Fox Casino near Horton. She had asked Lykins to babysit because the boy’s regular babysitter was unavailable. When she later saw her son at the hospital, he was “covered with bruises,” Lykins said.


Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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