Case Closed: Max Shatto's Death Ruled Accidental

Date: 2013-03-18

By: Matthew Farrell
Updated: March 18, 2013

ODESSA -- The Shatto family will not be facing any charges in the death of their adopted son, Max Shatto.

The Grand Jury in the investigation determined that the boys death was an accident, possibly involving a piece of playground equipment.

"The truth of the matter is this was an accident. It's a tragic death involving a 3 year old," Ector County DA Bobby Bland said.

With those words, Bland closed the criminal investigation into the death of 3 year old Russian adoptee Max Shatto.

The Grand Jury presiding over the case no-billed the Shattos, meaning they will not face any criminal charges.

"This is based on the lack of any evidence to establish any fault at the hands of Laura and Alan Shatto that resulted in the death of their son," Bland explained.

The autopsy report and investigation showed that there was no evidence of abuse and any bruising was self-inflicted, due to Shatto's previously diagnosed behavioral disorder.

The injury that ultimately resulted in Shatto's death has been ruled an accident, most likely occurring while the boy was playing on a piece of playground equipment outside their Gardendale home.

"I guess you could call it a glider. It's not quite a see-saw but it kind of looks like one. It could have hit a child and it could have caused the injuries found in the autopsy," Bland continued.

Bland says the doctors he spoke with agree that the injury was consistent with others caused by this piece of equipment.

The report showed that Max Shatto was frail and undernourished when he was adopted out of Russia.

Bland said that the family was doing what they could to improve his health, but a child in his state would have been more vulnerable than a healthy child.

"This child was undernourished, very small for his age, also with the behvioral disorder he was prone to hurt himself, so this type of injury may have gone generally unnoticed in this timeframe," Bland said.

While this could have happened at any point in the day, the report shows that it most likely happened during a 10 minute window during which Laura Shatto was dealing with an emergency in the house.

While the criminal investigation is closed, Child Protective Services is currently performing an investigation into the family.

Bland couldn't comment on the CPS investigation, saying only that no criminal charges will be brought against the Shattos from the Grand Jury's investigation.

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