CHARLOTTE, N.C. - An accused child killer made his first appearance in the Mecklenburg County Court Friday afternoon. The family of Christopher Simms, 25, cried out when they saw deputies wheel him into the courtroom.
"He left not in handcuffs, he left of his own accord walking with the police, he entered the courtroom today in a wheelchair with no explanation as to what's wrong with him," said Kina Page, Simms' aunt. "It's not fair, we demand answers as to what happened to him while he's in police custody," she declared.
The Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Department tells NBC Charlotte that Simms was able to walk to the courthouse, but then complained about feeling weak. They say he was offered a wheelchair, but has no physical injuries.
More than 20 members of his family attended the proceedings. Accompanied by local activist John Barnett, they asked the judge to reduce his bond. "He's made out to look like a villain and he's not," said Page.
However, the judge denied their request. Simms' is being held on $500,000 bond on Felony Child Abuse Inflicting Serious Injury charge. He is also facing a murder charge and no bond is set for that case.
"There's more to this story than you know, I am not at liberty to speak to everything at this time, but trust me, there is more to this story," Page asserted.
CMPD says Simms and his girlfriend took her two-year-old son to Carolina Medical Center Main Wednesday night. Investigators say the child had multiple bodily injuries, including a traumatic brain injury and was unable to breathe on his own. The baby passed away Thursday.
"The allegations that are going on around about him are false," said Page. "Yes he had the little boy with him with his own son, treated him as if he was his own son," she explained.
Page says Simms had the boy with his son, who is also two years old, in the 1800 block of Griers Grove Road. Residents in the area are stunned by the child's death.
"The thought of a baby being gone, because I got kids around here, that shouldn't happen, that shouldn't happen at all," said neighbor, Dondre Curry.
However, Simms' family continues to stand by him and say he is a man of good character.
"He plays semi-pro football, he works to provide for his child, he is a good man," said Page.
Page also says her family has been in communication with the child's family and there is no animosity.
Simms is due back in court on June 21st.