Brian Coulter, 31, appeared before a judge for the first time Thursday in the beating death of 8-year-old Kendrick Lee, whose remains were found in the home where his three siblings were living by themselves, the Houston Chronicle reported.
If he were to be released on the $1 million bond, he would be released to house arrest and forbidden from contacting the siblings of the deceased child, possessing firearms or consuming drugs or alcohol, Judge Kelli Johnson said.
Coulter is currently only facing a murder charge, but prosecutors said that count is “just a starting point.”
“This particular case is such a gross deviation from what we expect humans to behave like,” Prosecutor Andrea Beall of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said. “The priority should be making sure the surviving children get all the help that they need.”
Coulter’s girlfriend and the children’s mother, Gloria Y. Williams, 35, has been charged with felony injury to a child by omission and tampering with evidence.
The charges come after one of the surviving children, a 15-year-old boy, called 911 on Sunday to report that he and his two younger brothers had been living with Lee’s remains for around a year.
Deputies found the teen and two other brothers, ages 10 and 7, living alone in deplorable conditions in the apartment.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said that it appeared that the surviving children were “fending for each other,” with the oldest sibling taking on the role of caretaker.
The younger brothers appeared to be malnourished and had physical injuries, Gonzalez said.
An autopsy for Lee determined that his primary cause of death was “homicidal violence with multiple blunt force injuries.”