Coroner plans to address inquest that faulted couple in Mount Pleasant boy’s death

Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten (right) receives legal advice from assistant county attorney Brad Mitchell at the start of the inquest into the death of 2-year-old Elijah Washington.

Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten plans to later address the result of an inquest that implicated a Mount Pleasant couple in a toddler’s death, a representative of her office said Thursday.

Bryan Seabrook, 29, had already been arrested on a count of homicide by child abuse, but the charge was dropped by prosecutors for lack of evidence pointing specifically to him.

Six jurors in a two-day coroner’s inquest returned a decision Wednesday that Seabrook could again be held responsible for the crime, and his girlfriend, 48-year-old Marty Dixon, was implicated as an accessory. Dixon was the grandmother of the toddler, 2-year-old Elijah Washington.

Wooten’s inquest has faced criticism from opposing attorneys in the previous criminal case. The jury’s decision is a recommendation; she ultimately must decide whether to jail the two.

An employee from the Charleston County Coroner’s Office said in response to a Post and Courier inquiry that Wooten was planning a news conference at a time and on a date that had not yet been determined.

Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, who cited the inquest’s shortcomings in presenting evidence favorable to Seabrook but allowing “erroneous” testimony, has said she would not prosecute such a case.

Seabrook’s attorney, David Aylor, said he got word Thursday that the coroner was considering whether to sign warrants for his client’s arrest. That did not immediately happen.

The lawyer had likened the inquest to a “kangaroo court” and a “one-sided circus” based on an archaic law.

Wooten acted as a judge during the proceeding, directing it from behind a bench at the Charleston County courthouse.

Neither Seabrook nor Dixon would answer questions about Elijah’s death when they testified.

He was caring for Elijah in March 2013 like he often did when Dixon and Elijah’s mother, Brittney Hartwell, left home. Seabrook, who had been dating Dixon for years, said Elijah vomited and complained of stomach pain. Elijah’s body became rigid, and he eventually passed out, Seabrook said.

Seabrook tried to do CPR, but blood came out of Elijah’s nose. At a hospital, doctors’ attempts to revive him failed.

Seabrook was arrested after an autopsy revealed signs of abuse.

To prosecutors and in an interview with the newspaper, he has repeatedly proclaimed his “absolute innocence.”

Reach Andrew Knapp at 843-937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.