BILLINGS - A Billings man accused of beating and drowning his young stepson in scalding hot water was arraigned Tuesday in Yellowstone County District Court.
Kristopher Michael Harasymczuk, 37, appeared before Judge Michael Moses by video from the Yellowstone County jail and pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide and assault on a minor, both felonies.
Moses maintained bond at $100,000, the amount set on a warrant for Harasymczuk's arrest issued last September.
Prosecutors allege Harasymczuk caused the death of his young stepson, identified in court records only by the initial "J," last Oct. 22. The boy's mother called for help after finding the child, who was born in 2017, unresponsive in a bathtub inside the family's home on Woodgrain Drive.
The child was later pronounced dead.
A medical examiner determined the child died due to brain swelling possibly caused by several factors, including drowning, hyperthermia, and blunt force head trauma.
The boy's mother initially told investigators she was doing laundry while the child took a bath and checked on him consistently every few seconds until finding him unresponsive.
She later changed her story after telling investigators that Harasymzck was physically abusive to her and her three children, often hitting her when she tried to defend the children.
On the evening of the child's death, she said, she saw Harasymzck take the boy into the bathroom and heard the boy yelling but was told by Harasymzck that the child was fine.
She said she went to check on him when there was no sound coming from the bathroom and found him unresponsive and pulled him from the tub.
Authorities also said that during the initial investigation at the home a detective ran the water in the bathtub and noted the water was "excessively hot." Emergency room records on the night of the child's death indicated a reported water immersion in water temperatures of 102º.