Grandfather of Murdered Toddler Speaks Out As Trial Delayed
MORGAN COUNTY - A Morgan County judge again postponed Wednesday the trial proceedings for 21-year-old T.J. Presley, charged with second-degree murder in the beating death of his girlfriend's three-year-old son, Blake Litton.
Both attorneys are under a gag order, but they did tell KOMU Wednesday morning that they have not yet received Presley's file from the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The judge and attorneys have indicated the investigation is still ongoing. Presley currently remains at the Morgan County Jail.
Litton's mother, Jamie Litton, also has been charged with second-degree murder and is in a nearby jail. A family friend told KOMU Jamie Litton has been on suicide watch several times since her son's death, but she currently is in stable condition and awaits her scheduled May hearing.
Meanwhile, Jamie Litton's father and Blake Litton's maternal grandfather, Jim Miller, spoke to KOMU Wednesday in an exclusive interview--about how the case has torn apart their family and rendered unanswerable questions within the community.
Miller said Litton was a "grandpa's boy," who loved his three sisters and his mother. He described his daughter Jamie as a good daughter, great athlete, mother and friend--until her life turned troublesome and turbulent after high school, when she married and divorced twice and had four children before meeting Presley.
"She was a delight, she always was...until she reached the teenage crazy years. To know Jamie as far as a mother who loves her kids...I've always seen that. But why she would make such stupid mistakes is beyond me," Miller said.
Blake Litton and his sisters lived with Miller and his wife in their Stover home, until Jamie Litton began dating Presley and subsequently moved in with him and his mother. Miller described Presley as a man who terrified the children, saying Blake was scared to go to the basment of Miller's house, where Presley often hung out.
"The thing that concerned me most was they [Presley and Jamie Litton] were living downstairs. When TJ was here, Blake did not want to go downstairs. That was my first clue that there was something going on. Blake said, 'Paw-paw, we don't want to go downstairs. We want to stay up here with you,' and that haunts me."
Miller denied noticing any signs of child abuse on both Blake and younger sister Faith during Jamie Litton's and Presley's relationship. But, he noted perhaps his daughter was afraid of what Presley would do to both her and the children if she disclosed his volatile behavior. This fear, he said, could explain why Jamie Litton didn't notify police when Presley told her he had killed Blake and intended to stage the murder as a hit-and-run accident.
The grim reality of the tragedy within his family has been incomprehensible, according to Miller. But, community outreach, he said, has helped the family begin to move forward. In light of a statewide effort to honor National Child Abuse Prevention month, the community has sought to honor Blake Litton--adorning the town's park and schools with hundreds of pinwheels.
"Everyone in this town, I think, has been to the house...people trying to help who didn't know what to do...I don't know what I'd do without friends," Miller said tearfully.
The Millers have expressed their gratitude to the community's support and prayers and are encouraging Missourians to attend an Apr. 21 carnival, hosted by Blake's Legacy Group. The purpose of the event is to raise money for child abuse awareness, protection and education. It will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Stover Park, and persons interested can contact Annette Young at 660-888-3094 for further information and ticket purchasing.