ANDERSON — An Elwood man says Dylan Tate confessed what really happened the night 18-month-old Harlan Haines was rushed lifeless to a local hospital while the two men were in jail together.
In exchange for being moved out of the Madison County Jail, Joshua Basey shared Tate’s alleged confession in court Wednesday.
Tate, 28, is on trial for murder, charged with Level 1 felony neglect of a dependent resulting in death, Level 1 felony child molesting and Level 6 felony operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Steve Koester says Tate brutally beat, tortured and molested Harlan before his death and tried to cover the murder and the injuries inflicted on Harlan by crashing his car into a pole Feb. 23, 2018. Harlan died two days later.
Defense attorney Cody Cogswell says Tate woke up and found Harlan struggling to breathe around 4 a.m. Without waking the boy’s mother, Tate grabbed the child and tried to rush him to the hospital, but crashed his car and had to flag down a passing car to give them a ride to the hospital.
Basey said Tate approached him in December 2018 seeking legal tips after Basey helped another inmate with his defense.
During his testimony, Basey said he took notes while Tate told him what happened and later went back to organize and rewrite the things that were said. He threw away his original notes, but gave the rewritten document to his attorney to see if he could be moved or put into work release for the notes.
Prosecutors granted Basey’s request to be moved to a different facility and relocated him from the jail to the Madison County Correctional Complex.
Basey said he was unable to remember exactly what Tate told him without looking at his notes and the court allowed him to read the notes aloud.
He testified that Tate told him he had consumed “a lot more than two shots” the night Harlan was taken to the hospital. Tate allegedly told Basey he was not sleeping well because he had lost his job, wanted to fix up the house; Harlan’s mother, Jennifer Harris, wanted a new car; and he was stressed.
Tate allegedly went on to tell Basey that the “kids wouldn’t shut up” and when Harlan started crying he “lost it” — indicating his outburst resulted in harm to Harlan.
Basey went on to testify that Tate said he freaked out afterward and poured water from a jug over everything to clean up the mess. He said Tate admitted to panicking and shoving a paper towel down Harlan’s throat to quiet the child, but forgot he had done it.
When Tate realized how seriously Harlan was injured he came up with a plan to wreck his car to cover the child’s injuries. Basey talked about specific evidence collected in the case and described the items in his notes including one of Harlan’s blankets.
Basey said when Harlan stopped breathing because of the paper towel, Tate performed CPR to “make it look good.”
Tate allegedly told the other inmate he thought he had gotten away with it because he wasn’t arrested right away.
Cogswell asked Basey how much time he was facing for his crimes and Basey said more than eight years in the Department of Correction.
Basey said he hoped his testimony against Tate reflected positively on his character because he “did the right thing.”
When Cogswell asked Basey if he had ever “snitched” on another inmate, Basey said no.
Dr. John E. Cavanaugh, deputy chief medical examiner for Marion County, also testified Wednesday that some of Harlan’s injuries could be attributed to the car accident he was in and he confirmed that Harlan had cigarette burns on his body when he died.
He said the official cause of death for Harlan was listed as a homicide.
Cavanaugh, however, said Harlan did not have any tears or stretching to his anus despite doctors testifying earlier in the trial that it appeared there was a penetration injury. He said the red area visible in photos before Harlan’s death was a diaper rash.
Koester asked Cavanaugh if objects such as a person’s finger can be inserted into an anus without causing any injuries.
“I would hope so,” Cavanaugh said. “Doctors do it all the time.”
Follow Traci L. Miller @_TraciMiller on Twitter, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 765-640-4805.