Attorney maintains client's innocence in death of 2 year old foster child
PORT ST. LUCIE — Shortly after 2-year-old Trysten Eli Frank Adams arrived at a hospital last month, nurses told a caseworker there were no marks or bruises on the toddler.
But within minutes of Trysten’s death that Sept. 28 afternoon, a doctor reported Trysten might have liver damage, according to records recently released by the state Department of Children and Families.
A medical examiner called Trysten’s death a homicide, and police say his foster dad, 47-year-old Michael Beer, is responsible. But Beer’s lawyer said this week his client maintains his innocence.
Port St. Lucie police on Oct. 1 arrested Beer, of the 700 block of Southwest Myakka River Trace in Port St. Lucie, on first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse charges in connection with Trysten’s death. He is being held in the St. Lucie County Jail on no bond.
Medical Examiner Dr. Roger Mittleman conducted an autopsy and reported two “severe lacerations” to Trysten’s liver, and bruising to his kidney, gallbladder, pancreas and rib cage inner lining, an affidavit states.
Mittleman said the injuries were consistent with blunt force, such as a punch or kick. He said it would take less than an hour for internal bleeding to cause loss of consciousness and death.
Beer and his wife of 15 years, Michelle, were foster parents for Trysten and two other children, records show. They also have their own daughter.
Lance Richard, Michael Beer’s attorney, said his client maintains his “absolute innocence.”
“He is 100 percent in shock,” Richard said. “You can tell just by talking to him.”
Police have no evidence indicating Michelle Beer was involved in Trysten’s death, said Master Sgt. Frank Sabol, police spokesman.
Richard said the biological daughter is back with Michelle Beer following a court hearing last week. He said Michelle Beer is staying with relatives in Palm Beach County.
Michael Beer told police the morning of Sept. 28 he took his daughter and foster daughter to church, while his wife stayed home with Trysten and the younger foster son, according to an arrest affidavit and police. Michael Beer said when Trysten woke up he was in a good mood.
His wife said Michael Beer and the girls returned from church about 11:30 a.m. She put Trysten in his room on his bed about 12:30 p.m. after he ate lunch.
About 1 p.m., she heard him make a “normal cry type sound,” and said Michael Beer went to Trysten’s room and told him to go back to sleep. She said she left with the girls about 1:30 p.m.
Michael Beer told police about 2:30 p.m. he noticed Trysten on the floor, whimpering, as he went to change the other boy’s diaper.
Michael Beer told police Trysten’s lips were discolored and he panicked. He called his wife, but she didn’t answer. He then called for emergency services.
He said his wife was pulling in the driveway about the same time as emergency crews. Trysten was pronounced dead at the hospital about 5:02 p.m.
Asked whether Michael Beer had an explanation for Trysten’s death, Richard said, “I can just tell you he’s absolutely maintained his position that he did nothing inappropriate or wrong as far as striking the child, touching the child or committing any type of battery or doing anything that would have caused this.”
According to records, in March officials became aware of an October 1993 “abuse investigation” for Michael Beer in which he “was verified for neglect; specifically for failure to protect.”
That wasn’t discovered when the Beers went through an initial licensing process to become foster parents, nor did he disclose it, according to records released by DCF. Michael Beer said he didn’t report it because it was more than 20 years ago and he didn’t remember it until it was brought to his attention.
Michael Beer said he remembered being interviewed for allegations of child abuse against the daughter of his then girlfriend. He said he noticed a bump/bruise to the child’s head and told his girlfriend to take the child to the doctor.
He said he wasn’t the child’s caretaker and thought he couldn’t take the child to a doctor for that reason.
The child in that case was placed with her biological father.
Beer was held Thursday in the St. Lucie County jail on no bond, a jail official said.