OKLAHOMA COMMISSION ON CHILDREN AND YOUTH
OFFICE OF JUVENILE SYSTEM OVERSIGHT
Report Release Date: July 28, 2011Review of the Death of Christian A. Norris
of Washington County, Oklahoma
Dates and Outcome of Investigations and Actions Taken by the Oklahoma Department
of Human Services (OKDHS); Actions Taken by the District Attorney; and Dates and
Summary of Judicial Proceedings and Rulings of the Court
The Office of Juvenile System Oversight (OJSO) received a request for a public report
regarding the death of three-year-old Christian A. Norris. A 911 called was received
that reported Christian A. Norris was in route to a local hospital unresponsive. The child
suffered severe trauma. He later died of alleged physical abuse by the mother’s
boyfriend Joshua Benton. A Criminal Felony First Degree Murder charge was filed in
Washington County District Court on December 9, 2010, against the mother’s boyfriend.
Title 10A, Section 1-6-105, B, D and E, of the Oklahoma Statutes, states:
B. When a person responsible for a child has been charged by information or
indictment with committing a crime resulting in the death or near death of the child,
there shall be a presumption that the best interest of the public is served by public
disclosure of certain information concerning:
1. The circumstances of the investigation of the death or near death of the child;
2. Any other investigations concerning that child, or other children while living in
the same household, within:
a. three (3) years of the death or near-death, and
b. one (1) year after the death or near-death.
D. 1. At any time subsequent to seven (7) days after the date the person
responsible for the child has been criminally charged, the Oklahoma Commission
on Children and Youth shall, upon request, release certain information to the public
within sixty (60) days of the request as follows:
a. a confirmation shall be provided by the Commission as to whether a report of
suspected child abuse or neglect has been made concerning the alleged victim or
other children while living in the same household and whether an investigation has
b. confirmation shall be provided by the Commission as to whether previous
reports of suspected child abuse or neglect have been made and the dates
thereof, a summary of those previous reports, the dates and outcome of any
investigations or actions taken by the Department [OKDHS] and the Commission in
response to any previous report of child abuse or neglect, and the specific
recommendation made to the district attorney and any subsequent action taken by
the district attorney,
c. the dates of any judicial proceedings prior to the death or near death of the child,
d. recommendations submitted by the Department [OKDHS] and the Commission
shall be provided in writing including recommendations made at the hearing as
they relate to custody or placement of a child, and
e. the rulings of the court.
2. Specific recommendations made by the Commission described in any progress
reports of a pending case submitted to the court may be disclosed by the
E. Any disclosure of information pursuant to this section shall not identify or
provide an identifying description of any complainant or reporter of child abuse or
neglect, and shall not identify the name of the child victim’s siblings or other
children living in the same household, the parent or other person responsible for
the child, or any other member of the household, other than the person criminally
Child’s Name: Christian A. Norris
Date of Birth: June 18, 2007
Date of Death: December 7, 2010
Alleged Perpetrator: Joshua Robert Benton, biological mother’s boyfriend
Sibling 1 six-year-old
Sibling 2 four-year-old
Sibling 3 Newborn child
The Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth (OCCY) did not become aware of
this case until after the death of Christian A. Norris.
The OCCY reviewed the OKDHS records regarding Christian Norris that occurred prior
to his death. The OKDHS documented two reports which alleged abuse/neglect of
Christian within the past three years. The OKDHS documented two reports which
alleged abuse/neglect after Christian’s death.Case History
First Report to the OKDHS Alleging Abuse/Neglect (December 7, 2010)
The first report was received on December 7, 2010, at 3:05 p.m. Reportedly, the
OKDHS was advised that three-year-old Christian Norris was in route to a local hospital
and was not responsive.
The OKDHS screened out the report as a duplicate report.
Second Report to the OKDHS Alleging Abuse/Neglect (December 7, 2010)
The second report was received by OKDHS on December 7, 2010, at 3:30 p.m.
Reportedly, Christian had been ill and vomited the previous night. The report
documented he was finally able to keep juice down in his stomach. Christian and his
mother took a nap in the mother’s bed. The mother’s boyfriend who was a jailer for the
sheriff’s office came home and went to sleep on the couch in the living room.
Reportedly, the mother’s boyfriend Joshua woke up and checked on the mother and
Christian. Joshua observed a small trail of blood from Christian’s mouth. Joshua
turned Christian over and vomit came out of his mouth. It was documented at that time
it was believed that Christian asphyxiated on his own vomit.
The OKDHS accepted this report as a Priority I investigation. The OKDHS made timely
contact with the victim, siblings, mother, and biological father. The OKDHS
documented that while the mother was at the store Christian Norris and Sibling 2 were
left in the care of her live-in boyfriend Joshua Benton.
The OKDHS made a finding of Substantiated - Services Recommended on allegations
of Physical Abuse against Joshua Benton. The OKDHS made a finding of
Unsubstantiated as to Neglect as Christian’s mother for Failure to Protect. The OKDHS
documented that a Safety Plan was created for Christian’s two remaining siblings to
reside with a relative as a result of the death of Christian. The OKDHS documented
Christian’s mother was agreeable and able to protect the children from the alleged
perpetrator. The mother later moved in with her children and the relative. The OKDHS
recommended that the family receive counseling to address grief and loss issues.
Child Death (December 7, 2010)
Christian Norris died on December 7, 2010, from injuries he suffered.
Felony Charges Filed (December 9, 2010)
Joshua Robert Benton was charged on December 9, 2010, in Washington County
District Court with Criminal Felony Murder in the First Degree related to the death of
Christian A. Norris.
Third Report to the OKDHS Alleging Abuse/Neglect (April 20, 2011)
On April 20, 2011, the OKDHS received the third report at 8:35 a.m. Reportedly,
OKDHS was notified that the biological mother gave birth to a healthy baby on April 18,
2011. Reportedly, the baby weighed over eight pounds. The baby was born at home
through a mid-wife and had been scheduled for a well-baby check. The mother’s child,
Christian Norris, died December 7, 2010, and the mother’s live-in boyfriend, Joshua
Benton, had been arrested and charged with Felony First Degree Murder and was
awaiting trial. Joshua Benton was the alleged father of the newborn baby. The Medical
Examiner report remained pending on Christian’s death. Christian's back was
reportedly broken. The mother had since sought counseling services for Christian’s two
The OKDHS accepted this report as a Priority I investigation. The OKDHS made timely
contact with the victim, siblings, mother, and biological father. The biological father
refused to speak with OKDHS. The OKDHS made a finding of Unsubstantiated-
Services Recommended. The OKDHS determined that Christian’s mother was very
appropriate with the newborn baby and was providing adequate care. The OKDHS
verified that she continued to follow the Safety Plan and she and the children continued
to live with the relative. The OKDHS also verified that the family continued to attend
Counseling.Report of Autopsy (May 26, 2011)
On May 26, 2011, the State Medical Examiner’s office made a finding of Probable
Cause of Death as Complications of Lumbar Spine Fracture due to Blunt Force Trauma.
The manner of death was classified as Homicide. The report by the Medical Examiner’s
office in part stated:
This 3 year old boy (DOB: June 18, 2007) was found unresponsive in bed
by his mother. He was transported to [a metropolitan hospital] where he
was pronounced dead following resuscitation efforts on December 7, 2010
at 1507 hours. He had reportedly been sick on and off with flu-like
systems for the past week. He reportedly had fevers and vomiting and
was unable to hold anything down.Medical Examiner Opinion
Death of this child was due to complications of a lumbar spine fracture.
Subsequent to this examination, it was revealed that a boyfriend had
confessed to hyperextending the child’s back while in the bathtub the day
before the death. This is consistent with the injury seen at autopsy. The
manner of death is classified as homicide.
Fourth Report to the OKDHS Alleging Abuse/Neglect (May 31, 2011)
On May 31, 2011, the OKDHS received the fourth report at 7:11 p.m. Reportedly,
OKDHS was notified that Christian’s mother brought a four-year-old child; (sibling II) into
the emergency room and the child was extremely malnourished. This was the fifth time
the child had been in the emergency room this year. The child weighed 24.5 pounds
and was 43 inches tall. The child’s blood sugar was 41 and the child was placed on an
IV. Reportedly, the child had not eaten in two days and had been vomiting intermittently
for approximately two months. The child also had a high white blood cell count.
The OKDHS accepted the report as a Priority I report. The OKDHS made timely
contact with the victim, siblings, mother, and an attempted contact with the biological
father who refused to be interviewed. The OKDHS consulted with many doctors and
determined the child was being cared for appropriately and had an infection that had
been causing the illness. The OKDHS documented the child’s weight was 35 pounds.
The OKDHS made a finding of Ruled Out.http://tempdocuments.ok.gov/cdm/singleitem/collection/stgovpub/id/23431/rec/18