Grand jury to hear case of Hartselle man charged with child abuse
By David Gambino
For the Enquirer
A grand jury will hear the case of a Hartselle man charged with physically abusing a 5-year-old boy after the defendant waived his right to a preliminary hearing June 20.
Ryan Craig Rezek, 29, caused serious physical injury to his girlfriend’s child, according to an affidavit by Hartselle police Investigator Patrick Edmondson.
Edmondson said he was notified of a child abuse case at the 1900 block of Morningside Drive Northwest in Hartselle on May 23.
An anonymous caller showed officers a video of a young child with a busted lip and a burn mark on his chest and requested a wellness check on the child and his mother, according to the statement.
The caller claimed Rezek, the mother’s boyfriend, “is a heavy drinker and had been acting disorderly” and hurt the child, Edmondson said.
After arriving on scene and speaking with Rezek and the child, officers determined the child had been severely beaten, according to the affidavit. Officers detained Rezek and notified Edmondson.
Edmondson spoke with the child and mother inside the residence and noticed the child’s genital area was swollen in addition to extensive bruising on his rear and legs, according to the statement. The boy’s injuries, he said, included “swelling in the forehead area, lip bruising, prominent soft tissue edema at the dorsum of the hand, extensive bruising over the arms and legs, mild scrotal (edema), and burn marks in the chest.”
Edmondson said the child was transported to Decatur Morgan Hospital.
Rezek was charged with aggravated child abuse of a child under six. He remained in Morgan County Jail on June 20 in lieu of a $10,000 bond, according to jail records.
Should Rezek make bond, according to a court order signed May 26 by Morgan County District Judge Brent Craig and agreed to by the prosecution and defense, he must enroll in a pretrial release program under the supervision of Morgan County Community Corrections and comply with a no-contact order.
Rezek, with a shaved head, was escorted into the courtroom this past week wearing striped black and white jail garb and shackles.
He met briefly with his defense lawyer, Brian White, before Judge Shelly Waters announced the preliminary hearing had been waived.
Assistant District Attorney Garrick Vickery was also present.
Aggravated child abuse of a child under the age of six is a Class A felony punishable by up to life in prison.
Signs of children were everywhere on Morningside Drive on the afternoon of June 20. A front lawn near Rezek’s home was littered with toys and a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe. Nearby, a minivan brought two children home from a sporting activity.
Rezek’s house, one of many ranch-style homes along the street densely shaded by conifers, stood vacant.
“We were surprised by the arrest,” a neighbor said. “They always kept to themselves.”
The neighbor said Rezek had lived in the house five or six years, and that his girlfriend and her son moved in “a couple of months ago.”
The neighbor said she rarely saw the victim, and never heard noise or disturbances coming from Rezek’s home.
“We never had a reason to suspect anything,” she said.