Mother of 3-year-old who was beaten to death faces charges, 15-25 years in prison if convicted

Mother of 3-year-old who was beaten to death faces charges, 15-25 years in prison if convicted

April 15th, 2015 by Kendi A. Rainwater in Local Regional News

Dakota Arndt

Dakota Arndt

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Brianna Nicole Kwekel

Brianna Nicole Kwekel

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Justin Dale Bradley

Justin Dale Bradley

Brianna Kwekel's 3-year-old son Dakota Arndt was beaten to death six months ago, and on Tuesday she was booked into the Hamilton County Jail on charges of aggravated child endangerment in connection with the boy's death.

Kwekel, 23, is currently free on a $50,000 bond she posted at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Hamilton County Jail. Kwekel will appear in Criminal Court and if convicted will spend anywhere from 15-25 years in prison.

Since the death of her son, Kwekel has been living in Michigan with the baby she had with Justin Bradley, the man charged with beating Dakota to death, and who hanged himself with a sheet in the Hamilton County Jail where he was awaiting his preliminary hearing.

Dakota's biological father, Tyler Arndt, was in shock upon hearing the news of Kwekel's arrest from a Times Free Press reporter.

Arndt raised Dakota with Kwekel in Michigan, until she moved down to Tennessee with the boy.

Arndt said he fought to gain full custody of Dakota because he never trusted Kwekel as a parent. But he said he never thought his son was being abused -- until he got a phone call letting him know that Dakota was on life support due to a beating.

On Tuesday Arndt said he is relieved to know that Kwekel was finally arrested, but disappointed that she so easily posted bond.

"It's been months, but his death still feels so new," Arndt said. "It is nice to see things are finally happening."

Arndt said he is willing to testify against her in court.

"I'd just like to see her get sentenced" he said. " ... I just want to see her go away."

Kwekel was not home the August night that Dakota was beaten to death, as she was serving time in a local jail for a previous DUI charge. She left her son with Bradley, despite filing a restraining order against him citing domestic abuse just weeks prior.

Though Kwekel was not present the night her son was killed, an investigation by the Tennessee Department of Children's Services found that she was responsible for Dakota's death.

"There is a preponderance of evidence [against Kwekel] to support the allegations of neglect death, sexual abuse, and physical abuse," according to the 40-page investigative report conducted after the boy had died.

Ten weeks before Dakota died, DCS investigated a report of child abuse involving Kwekel and Bradley. Erlanger hospital records show that the child was treated for injuries to his genitalia in June 2014 that doctors believed may have resulted from child abuse. According to DCS records, no action was taken and the allegations were determined to be unsubstantiated.

Kwekel's mother did not return calls for comment on Tuesday night.

Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at kendi.anderson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.


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