Koltyn Sparks Blackwood

Chilling details of brain bleeds, liver lacerations revealed during preliminary hearing of slain tot’s babysitter

For two years, medical evidence in connection with a California toddler’s death has been kept under wraps. Last week, those disturbing details were made public during a preliminary hearing at the Tuolumne Superior Court.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Nicole Sparks, 23, the mother of 2-year-old Koltyn Sparks-Blackwood, turned herself in to the Waterford authorities in January, following the arrest of her then-boyfriend, Joseph Maloney, 26.

Maloney is facing charges of second-degree murder, assault on a child causing death, and child abuse. Sparks is facing a child abuse charge.

Koltyn passed away on January 15, 2019, after his mother dropped him off with Maloney in Waterford. Sparks left for work, with plans to pick her son up after her shift was over.

Hours later, Sparks received a call that her son was extremely ill. When she arrived to check on him, Koltyn was unresponsive. Sparks took him to the Adventist Health Sonora emergency room. When doctors realized the seriousness of Koltyn’s condition, he was airlifted and taken to the University of California Davis Children’s Hospital.

Koltyn died the same day.

Five months later, the Stanislaus County Coroner’s Office completed an autopsy report, which confirmed Koltyn had blunt force trauma. Doctors also said the boy had internal organ damage and severe brain trauma, according to Tracy Gulcynski, the boy’s paternal grandmother, who spoke with CrimeOnline in 2019.

[Family Provided]
The Modesto Bee reports that during the preliminary hearing, medical evidence showed that Koltyn had bruises all over his body, as well as liver damage and bleeding under his skull.

Dr. Julia Magana, who’s part of the team that looks into suspected child abuse at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center in Sacramento, testified that Koltyn had bruises on his chest, ankle, foot, stomach, shoulder, arm, shin, and hip. She also confirmed the lacerated liver and brain bleeding.

“He wasn’t responding to any noise that I made, which is atypical in a 23-month-old,” she said.

When the defense suggested that the bruising could have been caused by playing, Magana pushed back.

“It is not common for a 23-month-old to have bruises on their torso, on their neck, on their ears …,” Magana said.

Kristin Sparks and Joseph Malone [Police Handout]
Dr. Michael Ferenc, who performed the autopsy on the child also took the stand. Ferenc explained that regular child play would not have caused the kind of liver injuries that Koltyn had.

“It would require significant force to tear the liver,” he said.

It’s still unclear how the injuries were inflicted, but details are expected to come out during Monday’s court hearing.

Meanwhile, Maloney remains behind bars on a $1 million bond. Sparks is out of jail after posting a $25,000 bail.

Check back for updates.

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[Feature Photo: Koltyn Sparks-Blackwood/Family Handout]